A report by the Maharashtra irrigation department that purportedly exonerates former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar of his alleged role in an irrigation scam was tabled in the state cabinet on Thursday.
The whitepaper, is being seen as the first step in the political rehabilitation of Pawar, who had lost his job over corruption charges.
The document was presented by Irrigation Minister Sunil Tatkare of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) at a two-hour-long meeting of the cabinet, reports said.
The report will aim to clear ´misconceptions´ about Pawar´s role in the alleged Rs. 70,000 crore irrigation scam that took place during his 1999-2009 tenure as irrigation minister, a government source said.
"A white paper on irrigation was submitted today. The white paper is on two volumes," Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan was quoted as saying at the end of the meeting.
"One is a general volume which explains reasons of time cost escalation and difference in the way irrigation and irrigated land is quantified and the second volume gives the details of large and medium projects," he added.
The opposition BJP appeared to reject the report outright, calling it a "whitewash" and "anticipatory bail" for Pawar.