- A Dalit girl was gangraped and murdered in Odisha's Pipili in 2011
- Pradeep Maharathy had praised the acquittal of the Pipili case accused
- He resigned as minister from the Odisha cabinet citing "moral ground"
Odisha Agriculture and Panchayati Raj Minister Pradeep Maharathy on Sunday resigned from the Naveen Patnaik cabinet over his controversial remarks on the acquittal of two accused in the case of gangrape and murder of a Dalit girl.
The resignation came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the Pipili gangrape issue at a public meeting in Baripada.
"I tendered my resignation on moral ground so that my party does not get in trouble," said the six-time MLA.
Mr Maharathy landed in a controversy after his remarks praising the acquittal of the accused in the Pipili gangrape case. "I welcome the court judgement. It is a victory of truth. The victim girl got justice," he had said.
Following his controversial remarks, opposition Congress and BJP demanded Mr Maharathy's removal.
On December 24, Additional District Judge Court, Bhubaneswar acquitted the two main accused in the 2011 gangrape and murder case citing lack of evidence.
At a public meeting at Baripada on Saturday, PM Modi raised the issue and requested the Odisha government to probe the gangrape and murder case again to ensure justice for the girl.
Mr Maharathy had tendered his resignation back in 2012 for allegedly shielding the accused in the case.
He again became a minister in 2014. The Biju Janata Dal leader represents the Pipili constituency in Puri district.