Maharathi run out by Pipli rape case

Bhubaneswar: Bowing to public political outcry against the Pipili gang rape case, agriculture minister Pradip Maharathy today resigned on "moral ground" to safeguard the image of the ruling BJD and chief minister Naveen Patnaik image ahead of panchayat polls.

"Mr Maharathy has submitted his letter of resignation. He has resigned on moral ground. I have forwarded it to the Governor for his acceptance," Patnaik told reporters here. The chief minister said since his government had already ordered a judicial inquiry into the matter, there was no need to go for a CBI investigation. Saying the agriculture department would remain with him, Patnaik noted that his government was taking steps for proper treatment of the 19-year-old girl, battling for survival at the ICU of SCB Medical college hospital in Cuttack.

There was hectic political movement right from the morning. Agriculture minister Pradeep maharathi reached Naveen Niwas and was closeted with the chief minister and BJD supremo for over half an hour. Pradeep Maharathi personally handed over his resignation letter to the chief minister.

"I have tendered my resignation on moral ground. In view of next month`s panchayat elections. The move is to safeguard BJD`s image," Maharathy told reporters after handing over the resignation to Patnaik at the CM`s residence here.

Welcoming the crime branch and judicial probes into the Pipli gang rape case, Maharathi in his resignation letter mentioned that the opposition parties were trying to give political colour to an incident of a family from vilage Arjungoda under his constituency to gain mileage in the panchayat polls. Praising the clean image of Naveen Pattanaik Maharathi welcome investigations by any agency into the rape case.

Maharathy, a five time MLA from Pipili Assembly segment in Puri district who was for the first time made a minister in May, 2011, however, denied any pressure from any quarter and said he sought to protect the BJD`s image. "I am not a coward, I am a stalwart. I am ready to face any inquiry,“ he said.

Criticising opposition parties, mainly Congress, Maharathy said he had full faith in the Judiciary and truth would come out despite a campaign to tarnish his and BJD`s image.