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MVA Turmoil: Sena Attacks Deshmukh, NCP Leaders Meet Shah

MVA Turmoil: Sena Attacks Deshmukh, NCP Leaders Meet Shah

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Mar 28: A reported meeting between the top Nationalist Congress Party leaders and the union home minister Amit Shah followed by a scathing attack on the state home minister Anil Deshmukh in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece “Saamana” has left tongue waging about the future of the three-party Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra.

A sharp reaction from the deputy chief minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar to the “Saamana” article by its editor and the Sena MP Sanjay Raut also shed lights on the deteriorating relations between the two alliance partners of the MVA.

Even as Deshmukh told media persons at the Nagpur airport on Sunday that the chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had decided to order a judicial probe into the charges of corruption leveled against him by the former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh, Raut’s charge that the MVA government had failed to exercise adequate damage control measures after Singh’s eight-page letter became public indicated Sena’s frustration over damage to the party-led government’s image because of the NCP.

Not only that Deshmukh belonged to the NCP, the party supremo Sharad Pawar, considered to be the architect of the three parties coming together to form the government to deny the opportunity to the BJP, reportedly came in the way of the chief minister taking any action against the home minister in the aftermath of the disclosure of Singh’s letter leveling charges of running an extortion racket to collect Rs 100 crores a month with the help of the police. Raut in his weekly column in “Saamana” on Sunday was apparently hinting at Thackeray’s inability at the least to temporarily suspend Deshmukh pending an inquiry.

Amidst the on-going political turmoil, Pawar and his close aide Praful Patel, a former union minister, reportedly met Amit Shah in Ahmedabad on Saturday. None of the parties either confirmed or denied the event and Shah only added fuel to fire by telling the media in Delhi on Sunday that “everything need not be made public.”

Shah’s cryptic remark declining to confirm or deny came when he was asked by the media persons about his purported secret meeting with Pawar and Patel in Ahmedabad.

According to some local media reports, Pawar and his party colleague Praful Patel had met Amit Shah at a farmhouse in Ahmedabad on Saturday.

Shah’s denial, or lack thereof, of the meeting comes as the BJP maintains steady pressure on the Maharashtra government of Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP over the Ambani case and the allegations against Deshmukh.

The attack on the NCP came from an unexpected quarter since Sena and more particularly Raut had been advocating restrain from all partners when the coalition was “running smoothly.”

Severely criticizing his own party government for its inability to counter allegations against the Home Minister, Raut wrote in “Saamana” that the government’s damage control plans were “inadequate.”

Raut did not stop here, he called Deshmukh “an accidental choice” of the NCP for the home minister’s portfolio. “Deshmukh got the Home Minister’s post by accident. Jayant Patil and Dilip Valse-Patil had refused it. It is only then that Sharad Pawar handed over this post to Deshmukh. This post has dignity and status,” the article said.

“No individual can function as Maharashtra Home Minister remaining close to dubious characters…If a junior officer like Sachin Vaze was running a (money) collection racket from the Mumbai police commissioner’s office, why was the Home Minister not aware of it?” it said.

It also criticised the government for not being able to initiate damage control following the former Mumbai Commissioner’s allegations.

The NCP’s Ajit Pawar, the Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister, responded to the editorial saying no one should play spoilsport in a coalition government.

“The allotment of cabinet berths is the prerogative of head of every political party (in the coalition). No one should play spoilsport when the three-party government is functioning properly,” the Deputy Chief Minister said.


Grappling with the charges, Deshmukh told reporters on Sunday that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray “has decided that the allegations levelled against me by former Mumbai Police Commissioner will be probed by a retired high court judge.”

On Thursday, Deshmukh had written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, seeking an inquiry into the allegations against him which has triggered a political storm.

The state’s ruling alliance has landed in controversy after Param Bir Singh — replaced as Mumbai Police Commissioner over “unforgivable” lapses in the Mukesh Ambani security scare probe — accused Deshmukh of corruption and interference in police work. The BJP had sought his removal.

Deshmukh has denied the charges and said he would sue Singh for defamation. Ruling out the possibility off his resignation, Pawar had said Deshmukh was ailing and in hospital at the time he was allegedly discussing a ₹ 100 crore extortion racket with police officers.

Pawar had also said the allegations were meant to divert focus from the investigation into the case involving the detection of an explosives-filled vehicle found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s house.

But on Tuesday, a day after Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad launched attacked him over allegations of extorting money for police transfers to positions of power, Deshmukh met the Chief Minister.

The next day, in a Marathi tweet, he said: “I have asked the Chief Minister to inquire into the allegations made against me by (former Police Commissioner of Mumbai) Param Bir Singh to bring out the truth.”

In a letter to Uddhav Thackeray, Param Bir Singh has accused Deshmukh of “malpractices”.  The minister, he wrote, had appointed several of his officers – including Sachin Vaze who has been arrested in the Mukesh Ambani case – to run an extortion racket, giving them a target of ₹ 100 crore a month.

The discovery of the explosive-laden car last month in the same Mumbai locality where Ambani’s residence is situated set off multiple probes. The assistant police inspector Sachin Vaze, claimed to be the lynchpin of Deshmukh’s “extortion racket” is now under arrest for his alleged role in planting the car on the city’s Carmichael Road. He is a Shiv Sena member and was reinstated into the police force reportedly at Chief Minister’s behest. Sena and Pawar, however, have claimed that Vaze was reinstated by Singh 16 years after he remained suspended in connection with an alleged false encounter during which he had joined the Shiv Sena.

Meanwhile, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) which has taken over the Ambani bomb scare case as well as the alleged murder of the owner of the explosive-laden vehicle Mansukh Hiran, took arrested Vaze to the Mithi River near Bandra-Kurla Complex to search for evidence on Sunday.

Media reports said after Vaze directed divers to several spots, they recovered two CPUs of computers, the number plate of a vehicle, two DVRs, and a laptop among other things.


Vaze has been arrested by the NIA in connection with the security scare case related to industrialist Mukesh Ambani and will remain in the agency’s custody till April 3.

He is also a suspect in the murder of Thane businessman Mansukh Hiran. Hiran was linked to the SUV in which explosives were found near Antilia, Ambani’s home, and was found dead in a creek in Thane on March 5.




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