Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar broke his silence on the graft probe against party colleague and former deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal on Thursday, after Bhujbal called on him in the morning.
Taking a dig at the Devendra Fadnavis government, Pawar hinted at political vendetta at play. He remarked, “My party colleagues and I are waiting for the time when this government sends us to jail.”
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The state government has submitted a status report on the investigations in two cases, irregularities in allotment of a prime piece of land in Mumbai’s Kalina to a developer for construction of a library, and public private partnership (PPP) projects involving three state government buildings including Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi.
Bhujbal, along with senior state officials, have been accused of graft in the Maharashtra Sadan contract. Bhujbal’s son Pankaj, an NCP legislator, and nephew Sameer, a former Member of Parliament, have also been booked in the case.
The anti corruption bureau filed its first FIR on June 11 and subsequently searched properties belonging to Bhujbal and his kin. Pawar had avoided commenting on the issue so far.
Bhujbal called on Pawar in the morning and held a discussion which lasted nearly 20 minutes.
Pawar said, “The decisions in both matters were taken by the cabinet sub-committee (during the Congress, NCP regime). This means this would come under the collective responsibility of the (then) state cabinet. How can Bhujbal alone be blamed for these? We do not want to influence the investigation. But the party stands firmly behind Bhujbal,” Pawar said.
Pawar said the ACB “was feeding misleading information and inflating Bhujbal’s assets. This is inappropriate.”
Reacting to Pawar’s remarks, BJP Maharashtra unit chief Raosaheb Danve said. “It was (late) RR Patil who permitted a probe in Bhujbal’s case. The Congress, NCP government itself initiated inquiry in these matters. First they give permission to probe and then protest against it as a party,” Danve said. He denied that “action against Bhujbal was part of a vendetta.”