MUMBAI: The Shiv Sena is in a cleft stick over growing demands for resignation of its forest and disaster management minister Sanjay Rathod over his alleged links with the suicide of TikTok star Pooja Chavan, 22.
The minister on Tuesday skipped the cabinet meeting, triggering speculation over his continuance in the ministry.
Rathod, a four-time Shiv Sena MLA from Yavatmal, is a known leader of the Banjara community. He has neither spoken nor cleared his stand over the controversy. Sanjay Raut, Sena’s spokesperson, has clarified that the minister has taken the right stand.
Pooja Chavan was staying in Pune along with her brother and a friend. She was in Pune to attend English speaking classes. A few days ago, she fell off the second floor of the building and died.
The opposition BJP claimed that there are a few mobile phone conversation clips showing Rathod’s links with Pooja Chavan. Last week, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis wrote to DGP Hemant Nagrale, seeking an inquiry into the matter. He also submitted 14 purported audio-clips of the alleged conversations between Pooja and Rathod.
“Pooja committed suicide because of the Sena minister, so he should step down,” said Chitra Wagh, a BJP leader.
“The police are investigating the case… It is inappropriate for the minister to speak on the current controversy. The truth will come out in the probe. If Rathod speaks up, he’d face the allegation of influencing the probe. So, let’s wait for the probe report,” Raut added.
Pooja’s parents have said they don’t suspect any foul play.
“The Opposition should not tarnish the image of either our daughter or the minister,” her father said.
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