In a relief for Maharashtra minister Dhananjay Munde, who is facing rape allegation by a woman, his party Nationalist Congress Party has decided to let him continue in the cabinet post for now, sources said on Friday.
According to the sources, the decision was taken considering the complaints of harassment made against the woman by some leaders from the opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.
Top NCP leaders, including party president Sharad Pawar, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, water resources minister Jayant Patil and senior leader Praful Patel, met here late Thursday night to discuss the issue.
The meeting was held at Patel's residence.
Munde, 45, the social justice minister in the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government, has refuted the rape charges and dubbed them as blackmail attempt.
BJP leader Krishna Hegde on Thursday claimed that the Mumbai-based woman had been harassing him for several years.
An MNS politician, too, has made similar allegations against her.
Munde had levelled blackmailing charges against the woman. Now other party politicians, too, have levelled such charges against the woman concerned.
The allegation by BJP and MNS leaders somewhere seems to strengthen Mundes claims.
A police probe is going on in a case relating to Munde.
"We will need to wait for its conclusion. So, it was decided that Munde will continue in the post for now," the sources said.
On Thursday, NCP patriarch Sharad Pawar said that the allegation against Munde was serious and added the party will discuss the issue and decide on it "as soon as possible.
Pawar told reporters that Munde met him on Wednesday and explained his side of the episode.
State NCP president Jayant Patil said on Thursday that Munde would not resign just because someone has made allegations, but asserted the issue would be discussed inside the NCP and a decision would be taken based on facts.
Patil had also said that any conclusion should be reached only based on police probe outcome into the matter.
The NCP leader had also claimed that the state government was not interfering in the police probe.
Munde, an NCP leader from Beed district, has denied the rape allegations, claiming he is being blackmailed by the woman and her sister.
Munde, however, has acknowledged that he was in a relationship with the complainant woman's sister and has two children with her.
The BJP has demanded Munde's resignation.