MUMBAI: Under fire from Opposition over an alleged `rat scam', Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today said his former cabinet colleague Eknath Khadse had raised the issue jokingly.
"Khadse himself told me that he had raised the issue jokingly, not knowing it would take such a serious turn."
"However, (Revenue Minister) Chandrakant Patil has given a clarification over the issue and there is no need for me to speak on this further," Fadnavis said, speaking to reporters here.
Speaking in the Legislative Assembly last week, Khadse had said, quoting RTI information, that while the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) took two years to kill six lakh rats, a private contractor managed to kill more than three lakh rats in Mantralaya, the state secretariat, within a mere seven days.
How was this possible, the senior BJP leader said, seeking a probe, and causing some serious embarrassment to the state government which later said the number cited by him was of poison tablets used to kill rats and not that of killed rats.
Meanwhile, asked if his scheduled meeting with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray today was cancelled because of Rajya Sabha MP Narayan Rane's presence in the legislature, Fadnavis said he did not even know that Rane was there.
"Uddhav-ji and me were supposed to meet at 6 pm. However, my reply (to the debate in the Assembly) started at 5. 30 pm. When I realised my reply will not get over until 7, I asked (Shiv Sena minister) Subhash Desai to inform this to Uddhav-ji," Fadnavis said.
"Had Uddhav-ji been willing to wait, we could have met later, or simply spoken on phone. He preferred the latter. On phone, Uddhav-ji told me he wanted to meet me regarding a letter by Sena MLAs regarding distribution of funds in the coming year," Fadnavis added.
In the Budget session which ended today, Opposition was not able to corner the government over any issue, he said.
Earlier, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde said the government did not live up to people's expectations.
"We have been time and again submitting proofs of corruption. However the chief minister keeps on giving them (his ministers) clean chits," Munde said.