BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis on Monday dismissed party MP Ananthkumar Hegde's claim that he was made the chief minister last month - before quitting three days later - only to 'protect' Rs 40,000 crore central funds from being 'misused'.
Fadnavis, however, faced flak from Shiv Sena, which said his purported act was a treachery against Maharashtra, while the Sharad Pawar-led NCP said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to resign if there is truth in Hegde's remarks.
Neither did the Centre ask for any funds nor did the Maharashtra government sent them back, Fadnavis asserted.
Former Union minister Hegde, known for making controversial statements, on Saturday sought to give a new twist to last month's political drama in Maharashtra, claiming it was played out to ensure funds meant for development works were 'protected'.
"You all know that recently in Maharashtra for just 80 hours our person was Chief Minister, but soon Fadnavis resigned. Why did we have to do this drama? Didn't we know- despite knowing we don't have majority, why did he become CM? This is the question commonly every one asked," Hegde said.
Fadnavis dubbed Hegde's claim as "absolutely wrong", and said nothing of that sort happened.
"It (claim) is absolutely wrong and I refute it completely. A central government company is implementing the bullet train project, where Maharashtra government's role is restricted to land acquisition. Neither did the Centre ask for any funds nor did Maharashtra government sent them back," he told reporters in Nagpur.
"Not a single rupee of Maharashtra government has been returned to the Centre from any other project," Fadnavis said.
"I have not taken any such policy decision during my tenure as chief minister or as caretaker CM. Those who understand the accounting system of the Centre and states would know no such transfer of funds takes place," he said.
Fadnavis said the state finance department should conduct necessary enquiry and bring out the truth.
The NCP said Modi will have to resign if there is truth in Hegde's claim.
NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said, "It is impossible for the state government to return Rs 40,000 crore to the Centre. If at all it (Hegde's claim) is true, then Prime Minister Modi will have to step down from his post."
"It is not an injustice to just Maharashtra but to other states as well. People from states like Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala will not tolerate such injustice," Malik told reporters in Mumbai.
Attacking Fadnavis over Hegde's claim, the Shiv Sena said the purported act of Fadnavis was a treachery against Maharashtra.
Terming Fadnavis and BJP Maharashtra's "criminals", Sena MP Sanjay Raut said the state Chief Secretary will clarify on the issue.