Maharashtra Minister Dhananjay Munde is under pressure to quit over allegations of rape, which he has linked to blackmail by a woman he was involved with. His party Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has said it is looking into the allegations, described as “serious” by its chief Sharad Pawar.
Mr Munde, 45, has been accused of rape in a police complaint by a woman who has alleged on social media that there is a threat to her life. The minister, on the other hand, went on Facebook to deny the allegations and claimed that he was being blackmailed because of his relationship with the woman’s sister.
In the post, Mr Munde said he had been with the complainant’s sister for years and had two children with her, who had been accepted by his wife and family.
Amid demands for his resignation by the opposition BJP, Sharad Pawar said the party was discussing internally what to do about Mr Munde, who is Maharashtra’s Social Justice Minister.
Mr Pawar said Mr Munde had discussed the allegations with him.
“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,” Mr Pawar said on Thursday.
“Further steps will be taken after knowing their views. We will do this as soon as possible,” he added.
Top NCP leaders, including party president Sharad Pawar, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil and senior leader Praful Patel, met here late Thursday night to discuss the issue.
Maharashtra NCP chief and minister Jayant Patil said Mr Munde “will not resign just because someone has made allegations”.
Any conclusion should be reached only based on a police investigation, Mr Patil said.
According to him, Mr Munde had complained about blackmail by the woman but the police did not take proper action, after which he approached the Bombay High Court. The Shiv Sena, which leads the Maharashtra coalition with the NCP and Congress, is “not interfering”, said the NCP.
“The situation will definitely be reviewed inside the party. If need be, we will take appropriate positions based on facts at the level of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray,” Jayant Patil said.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut called it a “personal and family issue” that should be left to Mr Munde to resolve.
The 37-year-old woman, an aspiring singer, has said she wrote to the Mumbai Police commissioner on January 10 about Mr Munde “repeatedly raping her in 2006”. She also claimed she went to the police but her complaint was ignored.
The BJP has escalated demands for Mr Munde’s resignation even though its own party leader has alleged that he, too, was blackmailed by the same woman.