MUMBAI - THE chief minister of Maharashtra, one of India's richest states, was forced to resign on Tuesday over his alleged role in a housing scam involving apartments meant for war widows.

Mr Ashok Chavan, who only three days ago had been the first person to shake Mr Barack Obama's hand when the US president landed in India, was directed to tender his resignation to the governor of Maharashtra.

'Pending enquiry, his (Mr Chavan's) offer of resignation has been accepted,' Congress party general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said in a brief statement.

Mr Chavan had been implicated in a scandal over a new apartment block in an upscale Mumbai district where homes meant for war widows were sold off to politicians and military officers.

The scam has deeply embarrassed India's ruling Congress party, and the Press Trust of India reported that party president Sonia Gandhi had personally directed Mr Chavan to step down.

The announcement that the resignation had been accepted came as parliament resumed for its winter session, during which the opposition had threatened to disrupt proceedings in protest at the scam.

Top Indian minister quits