‘Suspend Jitendra Awhad if any morality is left’: Maharashtra BJP chief tells Sharad Pawar’s NCP

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday (November 14, 2022) demanded that the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) suspend its MLA and former Maharashtra minister Jitendra Awhad against whom a case of molestation was registered by police on the complaint of a woman. State BJP chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule also said that the cases against Awhad, including the disruption of the screening of a Marathi movie in the Thane district, were based on CCTV footage and videos.

“See the video (of the incident). Leave aside the MLA wanting to resign, if there is any morality left in the NCP, they should suspend Awhad from the party,” Bawankule told reporters.

“A few days ago, some remarks were passed against Supriya Sule (allegedly by a minister in the Eknath Shinde cabinet). Nobody supported those remarks but in this case, see the video,” he added.

“Now, Dilip Walse Patil (Awhad’s colleague and NCP leader) is not the state home minister. It is Devendra Fadnavis, who is very sensitive to such issues,” the BJP leader said.

Earlier on Monday, Awhad had said he would resign as MLA in view of “fake” cases registered against him and denied the charge levelled by the complainant woman.

Last week, Awhad was also released on bail in a case of disrupting the show of the Marathi movie “Har Har Mahadev” at a multiplex in Thane city.

After Mumbra police registered a case on Monday against Awhad under Indian Penal Code section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), he moved a court in Thane seeking pre-arrest bail.

Additional sessions court judge PM Gupta has kept the matter for hearing on Tuesday morning.

The court has directed the Thane city police not to arrest Awhad till his pre-arrest bail application is heard and disposed of.

The complainant alleged that Awhad, an MLA from the Mumbra-Kalwa seat in Thane district, pushed her while making way for himself during the dispersal of the crowd after an event of chief minister Eknath Shinde in Mumbra, as per the First Information Report (FIR).

The video footage of the incident allegedly shows Awhad speaking with CM Shinde and as he moved away from the vehicle, surrounded by people, the NCP leader asked a woman to move away using his hands and proceeded further.

“Police lodged two fake complaints against me including on charges under IPC 354. I am deciding to resign as MLA. I will fight against such police atrocity against me. I cannot see the murder of democracy with my eyes,” he said.

He later told reporters that such charges would spoil someone’s family life.

“I told her why was she trying to approach in such a rush and crowded place. Please make way for me. However, I did not know what happened at midnight and the police invoked IPC 354 against me and a case was filed at the police station,” Awhad said.

“The video footage of the entire incident is self-explanatory. Had the police seen the video, they would not have filed a complaint against me. I condemn false cases registered against me and tendering my resignation,” he added.

Meanwhile, senior leader Ajit Pawar said that Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde should come forward and explain that nothing of this sort had happened as he was present when the crowd was being dispersed after an event held in Mumbra in Thane district on Sunday evening.

“The chief minister should come forward and explain that nothing of this sort had happened there. Irrespective of how he became the chief minister, Shinde represents 13 crore people of the state, he said, and added the attempt to put a people’s representative in trouble is an “act of cowardice”.

(With agency inputs)