Ahmednagar (Maharashtra): The irrigation scam directed against him is an attempt to divert attention from the "coal scam", former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said on Sunday.
Addressing his first public rally after resigning as the deputy chief minister, Pawar said the irrigation issue was a conspiracy against the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
"There is an attempt to (malign us)," Pawar told the gathering at Akole, 120 km from Ahmednagar town.
The "coal scam" Pawar referred to relates to the controversial coal blocks allocation made to private companies by the central government that has been criticised by the official auditor.
Pawar, 53, abruptly quit the cabinet last week amid allegations that he had arbitrarily doled out irrigation contracts worth over Rs.20,000 crore as the state water resources minister (1999-2009).
Lashing out at those behind "the defamation campaign" and refuting allegations against him, Pawar insisted that he had quit on his own after the allegations were hurled.
"Nobody sought my resignation but I gave it on my own," he said. He said he resigned to ensure a "fair inquiry" into the irrigation scam.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Friday ruled that Ajit Pawar's resignation would be accepted.
After Ajit Pawar resigned, all 19 NCP ministers in the state also sent their resignations to state party chief Madhukarrao Pichad, sparking off a crisis in the Congress-NCP coalition government.