I am busy with elections, Prakash Mehta tells Lokayukta

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Maharashtra housing minister and senior BJP leader Prakash Mehta has excused himself from attending Lokayukta hearing on Wednesday in connection with alleged land scam saying he was busy in Gujarat elections and subsequently in the winter session of state assembly.

Mehta had demanded the four week period to attend the next hearing. However, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said that the Housing Minister was running from the inquiry. “It shows that Mehta wants to escape from the actions against him. We hope there will be fair probe against Mehta,” Malik said.

Mehta was accused of giving permission for the slum redevelopment project (SRA) at Tardeo despite negative remark by senior housing department bureaucrat. Opposition had alleged that minister violated the rule book to give a windfall gain of Rs 500 crore to the developer. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had ordered Lokayukta inquiry into the issue.

Lokayukta had called housing minister for hearing on December 6. However, Mehta conveyed to the Lokayukta that he would not be able to attend any hearing for next four weeks.

“The housing minister told Lokayukta that he was busy in campaigning of his party BJP in Gujarat elections. Besides, there will be winter session of state assembly. Therefore, the minister sought four weeks’ time to attend next hearing,” said sources from Lokayukta office.

The Lokayukta had sent letter to the minister seeking clarification over objections raised by Opposition leaders.

In the meanwhile, sources close to Mehta claimed he was trying to ensure his response to Lokayukta was properly framed since this was a quasi-judicial authority.

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