Mumbai: Appealing Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to accept the resignation of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday also demanded sacking of state Water Resource Minister Sunil Tatkare.

He also said that India Against Corruption would take to the streets if Vijay Pandhare, Chief Engineer in state irrigation department, who blew whistle on the alleged irrigation scam, was harassed.

"Chavan is going through a test at the moment. He is facing a lot of pressure. The question is will he succumb to pressure and save his government by not accepting Ajit Pawar's resignation, or will he accept the resignation and pass the test," Kejriwal said.

"His (Pawar's) resignation should be accepted, even if the Chief Minister is facing pressure from (Congress) High Command (not to accept it).

"Even Tatkare should be asked to resign as his name has surfaced in the irrigation scam," said Kejriwal, the former Team Anna member. Both Pawar and Tatkare belong to NCP.

Kejriwal also said that resigning was not equivalent to undergoing a punishment. "They are exerting pressure by submitting resignations...they are blackmailing the people in the country. Resignation is not a punishment," he said.

Kejriwal alleged that both CBI and state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) were controlled by the government.

"Scams take place but nobody goes to jail. Instead they are granted bail. Even in this current scam of Rs 70,000 crore, who will investigate? Both CBI and ACB are in the hands of the government."

In a surprise move, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar resigned yesterday following media reports of his alleged involvement in a scam when he headed the irrigation ministry between 1999 and 2009.

Kejriwal said a special investigation team headed by retired Supreme Court/ High Court judge should probe the scam.

About Pandhare, the whistle-blower officer, he said, "Pandhare has done a good job for the country. He exposed this big scam. We are with him."

Pandhare had written to Governor K Sankaranarayanan and Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, drawing attention to the poor quality of irrigation projects, inflated budgets and irregularities in purchase of materials.

"India Against Corruption (IAC) members will take to the streets if Pandhare is harassed," said Kejriwal.

"Lokayukta in Maharashtra does not have much teeth," he said. "Does the Lokayukta have powers to probe criminal matters? It has no powers and resources. The Maharashtra Lokayukta is an independent show-piece."


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