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Shinde under fire for inducting tainted MLAs Sanjay Rathod and Abdul Sattar into Cabinet


MUMBAI: The Opposition parties in Maharashtra on Tuesday slammed CM Eknath Shinde and BJP for inducting controversial rebel Shiv Sena MLA Sanjay Rathod and Abdul Sattar as Cabinet ministers.  

Sanjay Rathod's name had surfaced in TikTok star Pooja Chavan suicide case. Chavan, before committing suicide at her Pune residence, had allegedly spoken with Sanjay Rathod. It was alleged that Rathod forced her to commit suicide. Following the controversy, Rathod was forced to resign from Uddhav Thackeray Cabinet.

Abdul Sattar, another tainted Sena MLA, was also sworn in as Cabinet minister. He was mired into controversy when the names of his two daughters had surfaced in teachers eligibility test (TET) scam. It was alleged that Sattar's children manipulated the TET exam results to inflate their marks. After the probe, 7,800 candidates of TET exam were disqualified because all of them found inflating their marks. Sattar, however, denied allegations and demanded a high level probe. He said there was a deliberate attempt to malign him ahead of the Cabinet expansion.

CM Eknath Shinde defended his decision of inducting Sanjay Rathod in his Cabinet saying that the police have given him clean chit in Pooja Chavan suicide case. He further said that if some one still has issue with Rathod, then they will hear him out as well.

Sources said that Shinde has decided to defend Rathod and Sattar. “There are some ministers who are facing serious charges, still Eknath Shinde decided to induct them. The CM does not care about the allegations against his ministers. What matters for him is loyalty as these tainted MLAs stood by him. Therefore, he wants to reward them by giving ministerial posts,” he added requesting anonymity.

Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said BJP leader Kirit Somaiya had demanded the arrest of Sanjay Rathod when his name surfaced in Pooja Chavan suicide case. “Now, BJP has welcomed Rathod in new Shinde-Fadnavis government,” she added.

Pooja Chavan, who was hailed from Parli Vaijnath in Beed district, had gone to Pune a week before her death. She was pursuing an English-speaking course and was residing with two youths. Her video went viral on TikTok and social media after which she allegedly committed suicide by jumping off the Heaven Park building in the Wanawadi area on February 8. It was alleged she was in relation with Sanjay Rathod and skirmishes between them resulted in suicide of Pooja Chavan. There were several viral audio conversations between Pooja and Sanjay Rathod.

Meanwhile, Chitra Wagh, vice president of BJP (Maharashtra unit), said it is very unfortunate that Sanjay Rathod, who was responsible for the death of Pooja Chavan, was sworn in as a minister. “Sanjay Rathod has inducted as a minister in the new government, but I will continue my fight against him. I have full faith on judiciary. We will fight … and win,” Chitra Wagh tweeted.

Leader of Opposition and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar said while inducting some MLAs as ministers, some name should have been dropped.