Mumbai, Jan 30 (PTI) The Maharashtra government’s decision to bring the office of Chief Minister under the ambit of Lokayukta was nothing but a “PR exercise” aimed at building the image of incumbent Devendra Fadnavis, opposition NCP said Wednesday. Also Read - Sharad Pawar Warns Centre To Take Back Farm Laws As Massive Crowd Turns Up in Mumbai's Farmers Rally

The decision was taken by the Cabinet Tuesday at its meeting chaired by Chief Minister Fadnavis. Also Read - Thousands of Maharashtra Farmers Reach Mumbai to Protest Agri Laws, to Hold Rally at Azad Maidan Today

However, the anti-corruption ombudsman can’t initiate an inquiry against a sitting CM. Also Read - Samples of Poultry From 16 Maharashtra Districts Test Positive For Bird Flu | Complete List Here

Addressing a press conference, NCP spokesman Nawab Malik accused Fadnavis of “fooling” the people of the state by making such an announcement.

As per the Cabinet decision, a Chief Minister will face inquiry only after he demits office and after the governor gives permission for the probe, he said.

“When Fadnavis was opposition leader, he was in the forefront of demanding strengthening of the Lokayukta Act on lines of the Lokpal Act enacted at the Centre in 2013 which gives powers of policing, filing of chargesheet, seizure of property and arrest to the Lokpal.

“Even after four-and-a-half years, Fadnavis, as Chief Minister, has not acted on his earlier demand,” Malik said.

The decision is nothing for but a “PR (public relations) exercise” aimed at boosting Fadnavis’s image, the NCP spokesman said.

“We demand that amendment to the Lokayukta Act be with retrospective effect from October 31, 2014 (the day when the Fadnavis government took charge) so that we can file complaint about alleged irregularities in the Mumbai Development Plan and metro rail projects,” Malik said.

When contacted, an official in the Chief Minister’s Office said post amendment in the Lokayukta Act, a CM will face inquiry only after he demits office and not while on the post.

“The official statement about the Cabinet decision yesterday did not mention this,” he added.

“At present, the Lokayukta can only file an inquiry report. The report will go to the Chief Minister who can even reject the report,” Malik said.

The Lokayukta is a statutory body that has powers to probe complaints of abuse of position and corruption against public servants.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.