NCP says charges against Munde serious; BJP seeks resignation

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(Eds: Updates with more quotes, details) Mumbai, Jan 14 (PTI) Amid demand for the resignation of Maharashtra Minister Dhananjay Munde, accused of rape by a Mumbai woman, his party NCP on Thursday said the issue will be discussed internally and a call will be taken on his fate following the charges which it termed as serious.

NCP president Sharad Pawar said the allegation against the Social Justice Minister was serious and added the party will discuss the issue and decide on it 'as soon as possible.

Pawar told reporters that Munde (45) met him on Wednesday and explained the details in connection with the allegation.

'I think the allegation against him (Munde) is serious. Naturally, we will have to discuss the issue as a party. I will discuss the same in detail with my key colleagues and take them into confidence,' Pawar said.

'Further steps will be taken after knowing their views. We will do this as soon as possible, he added.

Munde told reporters that Pawar and other leaders of the party will take a call on the issue of his resignation.

Maharashtra NCP president and state minister Jayant Patil said Munde will not resign just because someone has made allegations, but asserted the issue will discussed inside the NCP and a decision will be taken based on facts.

Talking to reporters, Jayant Patil said any conclusion should be reached only based on police probe outcome into the matter.

The Water Resources Minister said so far there has been neither any discussion in the party over Mundes resignation nor the latter has offered to resign.

Munde was being blackmailed and he had made a complaint to the police. We should reach any conclusion based on the outcome of the police probe. We need not jump to a conclusion, Jayant Patil said.

Jayant Patil said Munde had made a complaint about his alleged blackmailing by the woman at the Bandra Police Station, but the cops did not take appropriate action on the same.

Hence, Munde had approached the Bombay High Court, Jayant Patil said.

Now, the police should conduct an initial probe into the matter. I am sure you will take note if some woman is defaming a politician by levelling random allegations, he added.

Seconding Pawar, Jayant Patil said the allegation against Munde is serious and added facts need to be checked.

It is also not expected of the party to take any decision without verifying the truth if anyone levels allegation against someone, he said.

Jayant Patil said the Shiv Sena-led government, of which the NCP is a key partner, is not interfering in the matter.

The situation will definitely be reviewed inside the party. If need be, we will take appropriate positions based on facts at the level of the Chief Minister (Uddhav Thackeray), Jayant Patil said.

It will not happen that he will resign just because someone has made allegations, he added.

The 37-year-old woman, an aspiring singer, had said she wrote to the Mumbai police commissioner on January 10, stating that Munde repeatedly raped her in 2006. She also claimed that she approached the Oshiwara police here earlier but her complaint was ignored.

Munde, an NCP leader from Beed district, has denied the allegations, claiming he is being blackmailed by the woman and her sister.

Speaking to reporters separately, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut termed the issue involving Munde as personal and familial.

I think we should leave it to Dhananjay Munde. It is completely his personal, familial matter. And he will find a way out of it, Raut said.

He also said that the NCPs leadership is discerning and matured to take a call on the issue.

Without naming any opposition party, Raut said that it is an illusion if they think Mundes character assassination will bedevil the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.

I dont think the opposition has levelled direct allegations. But I can only say that this is not a political issue, but of the family, Raut said.

Meanwhile, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded the resignation of Munde.

State BJP president Chandrakant Patil said Munde should step down immediately.

Minister Munde has been accused of sexual harassment and he has no right to be in the cabinet. A minister would immediately tender his resignation following such allegations but this thick-skinned government is unlikely to take any action against him, but we will press our demand, Chandrakant Patil said.

However, leader of opposition Devendra Fadnavis took a more cautious stand when asked with the charges against Munde and his resignation.

We need to consider both the sides before making any demand. The party (NCP) and the chief minister should look into it,' Fadnavis said.

Munde has said the woman's claims were part of a conspiracy to blackmail him. He, however, acknowledged that he was in a relationship with the woman's sister and has two children with her.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Munde said his wife, family and friends were aware of this relationship, adding the two kids have been accepted by his family.

BJP leader and former MP Kirit Somaiya has written to the Election Commission, saying Munde did not mention about his son and daughter from the relationship in his poll affidavit.

Meanwhile, asked about the arrest of the son-in-law of cabinet minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik in a drugs case by the NCB, Jayant Patil I dont think it should reflect on Malik if his son-in-law has committed any mistake.

'We dont know if he (the son-in-law) has committed any mistake or not. It will be known during the probe.

To another question, Patil accused the Centre of harassing its opponents using probe agencies.

Asked about the NCBs action against Maliks son-in- law, Raut said, A central team took action against Maliks kin. It is clear then what this is. Malik keeps forth the side of the Maha Vikas Aghadi strongly.

Raut said he does not know the details of the matter, but added such action is being taken in a pre-decided manner.

I saw today that the ED raided the premises of a key leader of TMC. This causes doubts in the minds of the people whether leaders are being targeted in a pre-decided manner.

Such things had happened in the past when there had been different parties in power at the Centre and in the state. This keeps happening be it any government, Raut said.

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