Maharashtra Minister of State for Transport and senior Nationalist Congress Party leader Gulabrao Deokar was on Monday arrested for alleged involvement in a 1997 housing scam related to the construction of 11,000 low-cost houses in Jalgaon, north Maharashtra.
Deokar, who was a member of the Jalgaon Municipal Council between 1995 and 2000, was summoned to the Zilla Peth police station at Jalgaon and arrested, police sources said.
Additional Superintendent of Police Ishu Sindhu, who is probing the Rs 46-crore scam, had earlier summoned 46 former corporators including Deokar. However, only 25 turned up on Saturday and they were all arrested.
As Deokar did not turn up, a fresh notice was served and he was asked to present himself before the police today.
Of the 25 former corporators arrested on Saturday, 15 were granted bail, while the rest were remanded in police custody. So far, 38 people including former housing minister
and Shiv Sena Member of Legislative Assembly Sureshdada Jain have been arrested in this case.
A construction tender was floated by the Jalgaon Municipal Council in 1997 for the housing scheme. It promised to provide nine plots for the project. It was found later that the tender conditions were altered to ensure that Khandesh Builders, a front company of Jain, secured the contract.
Of the promised nine plots, five did not belong to the Jalgaon council and the remaining four were reserved for school, public garden or hospitals.
The project never took off, but massive funds were allegedly given to Khandesh Builders. Later, it was found that a sizable proportion of it was funnelled into the accounts of companies controlled by Jain.
Shiv Sena termed Deokar's arrest as late action, and alleged that he was being protected because he was a minister of state.
"The democratic front government is involved in a host of scams. The police took a long time to arrest him," party spokesperson Neelam Gorhe said.
The investigation should take place in an impartial way and "we will watch how things proceed after his arrest," she added.