Mumbai: Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday came to the aid of his colleague Education Minister Vinod Tawde who finds himself at the centre of an allegedly fake degree controversy.
"It's a non-issue...There is no question of his resignation. He has never suppressed the fact that he had studied from this university or such and such was his qualification," Fadnavis told the media here.
Congress' Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra legislative assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil remained firm on the demand for Tawde's resignation.
"What is all this happening? First, it was union HRD Minister (Smriti Irani), then Delhi's (former) law minister (Jitender Singh Tomar) and now Maharashtra's education minister (Tawde)," Vikhe-Patil said.
He pointed out that the Sant Dnyaneshwar Vidyapeeth, Pune, from which Tawde holds the degree was 'autonomous' in status and not accorded recognition from any agency like the UGC, AICTE or even Maharashtra's Directorate of Technical Education (DTE).
"Tomorrow, every coaching class will start offering such degrees...It is time that the minister should register a case against himself before anybody else takes action in the matter," Vikhe-Patil said.
Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam on Tuesday led a noisy protest near CST demanding Tawde's resignation.
Demanding Tawde's dismissal from the cabinet and jail for him, Nirupam pointed out that despite the Bombay High Court banning the university in 2002, he (Tawde) chose to mention it in his election affidavit in 2004, which amounted to misleading information.
On his part, Tawde stood firm on the degree issue and said he never took the advantages given to any government-recognised degree holder.
"Every detail of my education is stated in election documents and is true. Furthermore, I never registered as voter for elections in graduate category and never availed the graduate benefits in passport application," Tawde said in a series of tweets.
Claiming that the degree was not 'bogus', Tawde said he was well aware that the university was not recognised by any government authority but he opted for admission to the bridge course of Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) between 1980-1984 to improve his employment prospects.
Leader of Opposition in the legislative council, NCP's Dhananjay Munde, also sought Tawde's resignation on 'moral grounds.'