Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Tuesday faced calls from the Opposition for resignation after the Bombay High Court’s status quo order on allotment of government land in Nagpur when he was the urban development minister in the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi dispensation, but he denied any wrongdoing and rejected the demand to quit.
The issue figured prominently in the state legislature, which is having its winter session in Nagpur, where members of the Opposition staged demonstrations in the Vidhan Bhavan complex against the Shinde-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition government.
They accused the Shinde-BJP government of being corrupt and demanded the resignation of the Chief Minister, who assumed the top office in June after the collapse of the MVA government following a revolt by a section of Shiv Sena MLAs.
Speaking in the Assembly, Shinde said when the matter came to him as an appellate authority, he did not pass any order to reduce or increase the rate of the land in question and insisted that the price be charged as per existing government rules.
The CM said when the last week’s HC order was brought to his notice, he cancelled his land allotment order dated April 20, 2021 (when he was urban development minister in the MVA government).
“I did not misuse my power as the urban development minister (in the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi govermnent). I have also not interfered in any court order,” he said.
The chief minister currently handles the urban development department among several other portfolios.
The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has ordered status quo on a decision taken by Shinde, when he was the urban development minister, allotting land meant for slum dwellers to private persons.
A division bench of Justices Sunil Shukre and M W Chandwani, in its order passed on December 14, noted that the court since 2004 has been monitoring the land allotments made by the Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) to politicians and other influential individuals.
This was after a petition was filed by Nagpur-based social activist Anil Wadpalliwar, alleging the NIT, which comes under the urban development department, gave away land to politicians and others at meagre rates.
Addressing a press conference, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader Uddhav Thackeray demanded the resignation of Shinde citing the HC order and said the matter was serious.
Thackeray said the matter was subjudice and the state government should not intervene in it.
Deputy CM Fadnavis said Shinde gave his order (of land allotment) in April 2021, saying all the 16 persons should be treated at par with the other parties whose plots have been approved.
They should pay the same amount and development charges as paid by the earlier parties and should be given the possession after completion of lease agreement of the plots immediately, Fadnavis said, defending the CM.
“Surprisingly, when the decision was taken on April 20, 2021, nobody raised objection for the next few months,” he added.
With inputs from News18