Allegations of rape against Maharashtra minister Dhananjay Munde are "serious", Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar said on Thursday, adding that the party will discuss the issue and decide on it "as soon as possible".
"I think the allegation against him is serious. Naturally, we will have to discuss the issue as a party. I will discuss the same in detail with my key colleagues and take them into confidence," Mr Pawar said.
Mr Munde has denied the accusations made by a woman, claiming he has been in a relationship with her sister for years and this was plot to blackmail him. The allegations have landed him in a controversy with the opposition BJP calling for his resignation.
Mr Pawar told reporters that Mr Munde met him on Wednesday and explained the details in connection with the allegation. "Further steps will be taken after knowing their (party colleagues) views. We will do this as soon as possible, he added.
Mr Munde, who has been with the NCP since 2013 after quitting the BJP, has said that Mr Pawar and other leaders of the party will take a call on the issue of his resignation.
Meanwhile, in fresh twist on Thursday, BJP leader Krishna Hegde said Mr Munde's accuser had tried luring him into a relationship and blackmailing him. In a letter to the Mumbai Police calling for an investigation, Mr Hegde said the woman had tried to target him for five years since 2010.
Earlier, in a Facebook post, Dhananjay Munde, the state minister for social justice, said he was being blackmailed by the rape accuser and her sister since 2019. He said that he had also filed a complaint with the police in November.
Mr Munde, 45, said that he had been in a relationship with the woman's sister since 2003 and has two children with her. The relationship was also accepted by his family, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader said.
"This matter was known to my family, wife and friends. In this mutual relationship, we were blessed with a son and a daughter. My family, wife and my children have also taken these kids as family and approved," he wrote, adding, "This whole case has been created for blackmailing, false and defamation, so please don't believe such charges (sic)".
The 37-year-old woman, an aspiring singer, said she wrote to the Mumbai police commissioner on January 10, alleging that Mr Munde had repeatedly raped her in 2006. In a tweet tagging top NCP leaders including Sharad Pawar, she claimed that she had approached the police earlier but her complaint was not accepted. She also requested help from former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, alleging that her life was under threat.
(With inputs from PTI)