Bhubaneswar: A day after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said that he will decide the fate of Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy, who is accused of harbouring the culprits behind the alleged gang rape at Pipli in Puri district, in a day or so, Maharathy today submitted his resignation letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at Naveen Niwas owing to widespread protest and pressure from the Opposition.
When asked about the reason for his resignation by media persons, Maharathy said, “I have given the resignation on ‘moral ground’ and in the ‘interest’ of ruling BJD. I have taken this decision to safeguard BJD’s image in view of the coming panchayat elections. I am ready to face any inquiry. I have full faith on judiciary and truth would come out despite a campaign by opposition political parties to tarnish my image.”
Denying the allegations against him, he said, “I am not a coward, I am a stalwart, Maharathy added.
However not satisfied with Maharathy’s resignation, opposition Congress and BJP said it was a drama. “Maharathy’s resignation is not enough. It is a drama. We want the chief minister to resign. Our battle will continue,” Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Niranjan Patnaik said.
Making the same demand, state BJP President Jual Oram said, Patnaik must resign on moral ground and agitation would continue to ensure justice to the rape victim.
The opposition political parties and civil societies, which had undertaken state-wide agitations in the wake of the dalit gangrape case, also demanded a CBI probe into the matter..
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had forwarded Maharathy’s resignation letter to Raj Bhawan for the approval of Governor Shri M C Bhandare. Meanwhile the Governor has accepted the resignation. CM Naveen Patnaik will hold the responsbility of the department for the time being.