Bhubaneswar: Odisha Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment Minister Pradeep Maharathy today resigned from the post. In his resignation letter, Maharathy has mentioned that he resigned on moral grounds.
Opposition Congress and BJP had been demanding his dismissal from the Cabinet for his alleged insensitive statement on the verdict of a local court in the gang-rape and murder of a girl in Pipili in 2011. Maharathy, however, had apologised for his remarks.
The resignation also comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a public rally in Baripada targeted the State Government over the case.
“I am a sincere worker of the BJD. I have respect for the party and the Chief Minister. I resigned voluntarily to avoid any pressure on the party,” Maharathy said in his initial reaction after resigning.
Additional District Judge Court, Bhubaneswar had acquitted prime accused in the case, Prashant Pradhan and his brother Sukant on December 24 due to lack of evidence.
Commenting on the verdict, Maharathy had said, “Truth has prevailed and it is now for the police to find out how the victim died. My sympathies are with the victim, but I respect the court’s verdict.”
The BJP Mahila Morcha and Odisha Pradesh Mahila Congress had threatened to launch state-wide protest over his remarks.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Sashi Bhusan Behera has been given the additional duty of Agriculture and Fisheries & Animal Resources Development Department and ST & SC Development Minister Ramesh Chandra Majhi will look after Panchayati Raj & Drinking Water Department.