Mr. Nagar, 53, is the third Minister in the Ashok Gehlot government forced to quit over charges of sexual impropriety.
Amid increasing pressure on the Congress-led government to act against him, Rajasthan Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies Babulal Nagar resigned from the Cabinet on Thursday over allegations of rape.
The police had earlier registered a case of rape and assault against him on court direction.
Mr. Nagar, 53, is the third Minister in the Ashok Gehlot government forced to quit over charges of sexual impropriety. The former Minister, Mahipal Maderna, and Congress MLA Malkhan Singh are in jail in the Bhanwari Devi murder case, while Ramlal Jat was earlier shunted out of the Cabinet over a woman’s suicide. Mr. Jat was allegedly in a relationship with her.
Mr. Nagar announced his resignation while speaking to journalists at his official residence in Civil Lines. He said though he was innocent, he had decided to resign on “moral grounds” to facilitate a fair and impartial investigation.
“No one asked me to quit. I took the decision after much thought and sent my resignation to the Chief Minister’s Office through a messenger this morning. It is my reply to those who believed that I as a Minister would influence the probe,” said Mr. Nagar.
He said he was being framed as part of a “political conspiracy” as he was likely to contest the coming Assembly elections from his traditional constituency, Dudu. “My resignation also sends [across] a message that I will not let my party suffer because of this concocted case. I will fully cooperate in the investigation.”
However, according to sources in the Congress, Mr. Nagar was asked to tender his resignation by the party high command. AICC general secretary in-charge of the State Gurudas Kamat reportedly sought information on the case on Wednesday evening. After a report was sent to him, he conveyed the party’s desire that the Minister resign.
The allegations, coming up just when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi are visiting the State this weekend, turned out to be a major embarrassment to the ruling party.
Mr. Gehlot, who was in Barmer to review preparations for Ms. Gandhi’s visit for laying the foundation stone for an oil refinery, told reporters he had received Mr. Nagar’s resignation. He would take a decision on returning to Jaipur.
The case against Mr. Nagar has been registered under Sections 376 (rape) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code following a direction from a Metropolitan Magistrate before whom the woman had filed the complaint. She has alleged that Mr. Nagar called her to his residence on September 11 and thrashed and raped her in a room. He later threatened her with “dire consequences” if she revealed the incident to anyone, according to the complaint.
Meanwhile, the CID-Crime Branch has recorded the complainant’s statement, got her medically examined and took her to Mr. Nagar’s residence twice since Wednesday night. The room in which the 35-year-old woman alleged the rape took place was sealed and her clothes were sent for forensic examination.
The CID-Crime Branch has come under criticism for taking the complainant to Mr. Nagar’s residence at night. Women’s groups said taking her to the scene of crime after sunset was in violation of Supreme Court guidelines. Moreover, Mr. Nagar was present in the house when the woman was taken there.