first_imgOdisha Agriculture and Panchayati Raj Minister Pradeep Maharathy resigned from his post on Sunday. The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader was in the eye of a storm for his remarks over the recent acquittal of accused persons in the seven-year-old Pipili gang-rape and murder case.The women’s wings of the Opposition Congress and BJP had staged several demonstrations in Bhubaneswar demanding that Mr. Maharathy be ousted from the Cabinet for his remarks hailing the trial court’s ruling in December.Although the Crime Branch of the Odisha police had subsequently announced that it would move the High Court challenging the trial court order, the women’s wings of the parties had pressed their demand for Mr. Maharathy’s sacking.The Minister’s resignation came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the State government to reinvestigate the seven-year-old gang rape case.“The State government has not been able to give justice to the daughter who had faced violence seven to eight years ago in Puri. The angst among daughters and mothers is justified,” Mr. Modi had said, while addressing a public meeting at Baripada on Saturday.Interestingly, Mr. Maharathy, who represents the Pipili constituency in the Assembly, had stepped down as Minister amid a controversy over the same case in January 2012 also.The victim, a minor belonging to Pipili area of Puri district, had died in hospital several weeks after she was sexually assaulted in her village.Responding to media queries, Mr. Maharathy said he decided to resign on his own in order to avoid embarrassment for his party over the issue.Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik accepted Mr. Maharathy’s resignation and forwarded the same to the Governor.Mr. Patnaik allocated the portfolios that Mr. Maharathy was holding to other Ministers. Finance Minister Sashi Bhusan Behera got the additional charge of Agriculture & Farmers’ Development, while SC & ST Development Minister Ramesh Chandra Majhi got the additional charge of Panchayati Raj & Drinking Water.last_img

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