Allegations Against Deshmukh Vague, No Question of Quitting: Pawar
Pawar said that the allegations by Param Bir Singh against HM Anil Deshmukh were meant to derail the ATS probe.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar said on Monday, 22 March, that former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh's corruption allegations against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh were vague, and that there was no question of the latter resigning.
Addressing the media amid rising pressure over demands for Deshmukh’s resignation after Singh’s allegations in the backdrop of the Mukesh Ambani bomb scare case, Pawar said that the letter by the former top cop was a bid to derail the probe in the case.
“If you see the former commissioner's (Param Bir Singh's) letter, he mentions that in mid-February, he was informed by certain officers that they got such instructions from the Home Minister. From 5 to 15 February, Deshmukh was admitted at the hospital because of corona. From 15 till 27 February, he was under home quarantine,” Pawar told the media.
Fadnavis Rejects Claims of HM’s Quarantine, Deshmukh Responds
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition and former CM Devendra Fadnavis took to Twitter to share a clip of a press conference held by Deshmukh on 15 February, thereby refuting Pawar’s claims of the Home Minister being in quarantine and not having met people.
“Shri Sharad Pawar ji said, from 15th to 27th February HM Anil Deshmukh was in home quarantine. But actually along with security guards & media he was seen taking press conference! (sic),” Fadnavis tweeted, sharing a clip of Deshmukh’s address on the probe into celebrity tweets over farmers’ protests.
The Fadnavis-led BJP in the state has been upping the ante against the Maharashtra government to demand Deshmukh’s resignation.
However, Deshmukh said that the video is from the day he was discharged from hospital, and that he was on home quarantine from 15 to 27 February.
“A few journalists were waiting for me at the hospital gate after I got discharged on 15th February. I was feeling low and weak so I sat on the chair there and responded to their questions. Then, I went straight to my car and went home.”Anil Deshmukh, Maharashtra Home Minister
“I stepped out of my house for the first time on 28 February,” he added.
Param Bir Singh’s Letter a Bid to Derail Probe by ATS
NCP head Pawar said that the hospital-certified records prove the fact that Deshmukh was not allowed to meet anybody, so the claims made by Singh in the letter of meeting Deshmukh in that period were false.
“He (Param Bir Singh in the letter) mentioned meeting the deputy CM, CM, and me in the second week of March. If he knew of some malpractices happening in mid-February, why did he wait to meet and brief us till March,” he said.
Pawar further said that the letter by Singh had been timed in order to derail the probe being conducted by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in the case. The ATS had on Sunday arrested two people for the alleged murder of Mansukh Hiren, the owner of the explosives-laden SUV that was discovered outside Mukesh Ambani’s house.
Pawar said that the letter was a bid to divert the probe that was going in the “right direction.”
“As the Maharashtra ATS probe is moving in the right direction, the allegations in the letter are meant to derail the whole investigation from reaching its logical end,” Pawar said.
“The allegations against Home Minister Anil Deshmukh do not stand, so his resignation is ruled out. A thorough probe can bring out the truth. The chief minister will take a call about the probe,” he added.
Ready to Probe Matter: Shiv Sena
Earlier on Monday, the Shiv Sena said that it was ready to probe the allegations against Deshmukh but backed Pawar’s demand to probe the timing of the letter as well.
“If the NCP chief has decided that the allegations should be probed, then what is wrong? Anyone can level any allegation. If people demand a minister’s resignation anyhow, it will be difficult to run the government,” Sena leader Sanjay Raut told ANI.
“The home minister (Deshmukh) said that the contents of the ‘letter bomb’ should be probed. The chief minister should investigate them. The NCP chief, too, said that it should be investigated. If the government is ready to accept the challenge of probing it, then why is the issue of resignation being raised repeatedly?” Raut said.
In its editorial in the party mouthpiece Saamana, the Sena alleged that since the probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the Mukesh Ambani bomb scare case and former API Sachin Vaze’s alleged involvement in it would have been traced back to Singh, he levelled the allegations to shield himself.
“While the possibility of Vaze’s involvement being traced back to Singh got stronger with the ongoing NIA investigation, he levelled these allegations to shield himself. If there is any truth to this, the BJP is clearly using Singh to defame the state government,” the editorial said.
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