A day after Maharashtra’s Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) filed an affidavit in the Bombay High Court spelling out former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s alleged role in the multi-crore irrigation scam, NCP leaders came out in his support.
Slamming the BJP government of vendetta politics ahead of elections, former minister Chhagan Bhujbal said, “The thing is that, politicians (ruling side) first fix a person and later, through the police machinery, start action against him. They (politicians) first decide the result of the action and later the inquiry begins.”
It must be noted that state BJP president Raosaheb Danve had remarked earlier this month that Pawar could be arrested “anytime” in the alleged irrigation scam. “How could Danve have made such a statement when the police were still investigating the case,” Bhujbal said.
Rubbishing Bhujbal’s claim, Maharashtra’s Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan said, “There has been no political interference in the case.”
Bhujbal, meanwhile, added, “In my case also, some politician raised a hue and cry demanding that Bhujbal should be put behind bars and then I was arrested.”
Bhujbal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case and was recently granted bail by the Bombay High Court. “Some ministers first decide whose voice in the Opposition needs to be silenced, then the police are instructed accordingly,” he alleged. Raising questions over the timing of ACB’s affidavit, Bhujbal said, “This is nothing but a ploy to harass before the elections.”
While Pawar has so far not been named in the criminal cases lodged in the irrigation controversy, the affidavit – filed by Director General (ACB) Sanjay Barve – indicates that the agency sees the then water resources minister (Pawar) as being part of the “modus operandi” in the alleged scam.
Maharashtra’s Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde, rallying behind Pawar, also accused the BJP government of vendetta. “As the Opposition has been aggressive during the proceedings in the House, the government is playing vendetta,” he said.
Munde claimed “ACB’s affidavit has not passed any strictures against Pawar”.
Pawar, meanwhile, refused a direct comment over the controversy. “The matter is in court. My lawyers have advised that I shouldn’t speak a lot about it. I’m taking care to ensure that I say nothing that can influence the investigation in the case. But I have faith in the judiciary. I’ve always cooperated with the investigation in the case and will continue to do so.”
He added, “The government is doing its work. I’m doing mine.” Taking a veiled dig at the ruling side, Pawar said, “The Maratha and Dhangar reservation issue and tackling the drought are more pressing issues. The Opposition has been demanding that the government pay heed to all elected representatives and take urgent steps.”