Updated: March 21, 2021 10:28:49 pm
Accusing the BJP of attempting to destabilise the Maharashtra government, the Congress on Sunday said former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh, who has levelled corruption allegations against state home minister Anil Deshmukh, might be under the pressure of Central agencies.
Speaking at a press conference, Maharashtra Congress spokesman Sachin Sawant questioned Singh’s claims, and said, “Deshmukh was in hospital after he tested positive for coronavirus in February. I had had online interactions with Deshmukh on two occasions when he was indisposed. If Singh’s allegations are believed to be true then why did he wait till March, and till he was transferred, to raise them?”
Sawant said Singh could be under the pressure of Central agencies since his close aide, Sachin Waze, is in NIA custody. “Singh’s allegations raise several questions. All this is scripted. How did BJP leaders give sound bytes to news channels minutes after Singh’s letter became public?” he asked.
Days after he was shunted as Mumbai police commissioner, Singh. in an eight-page letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, alleged that Deshmukh had asked Assistant Inspector Sachin Waze, arrested by the NIA in the Mukesh Ambani bomb scare case, to collect Rs 100 crore every month, including Rs 40-50 crore from some 1,750-odd bars and restaurants in Mumbai.
Deshmukh had called the allegations against him “baseless”.
Steering clear of making any direct remarks on the case, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the issue concerns Chief Minister Thackeray and the NCP as the minister in question is from that party. Singhvi also raised the issue of graft charges against Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, accusing the BJP of hypocrisy and questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on it.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray, on the other hand, sought the Centre’s intervention to find out the truth behind the explosives-laden car found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence last month. Addressing a press conference, Thackeray said, “The explosives case doesn’t revolve only around Param Bir Singh and Sachin Waze. Police placing the explosives or being asked to do so is not a small thing.” He alleged that the Maharashtra government had failed to shed light on several basic points in the case. “The basic issue should not be forgotten, otherwise this case will go the same way as actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s (death) case,” he added.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad too called for a “fair and impartial probe by an outside agency”. Prasad expressed astonishment over Waze, “a mere assistant inspector”, being defended inside and outside the assembly by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Another BJP leader, Narayan Rane, alleged that Waze lived in Malabar Hill-based Varsha, the official residence of the CM for the last few months. Talking to reporters, Rane, a former Shiv Sena CM, demanded the resignation of Thackeray for the poor law and order situation in Maharashtra. “Uddhav Thackeray should quit. For the last few months, Waze lived in Varsha and sometimes in a five star hotel in south Mumbai. What was he doing there? Wasn’t the CM aware that Waze lived in his official residence?” Rane asked. Rane further alleged Thackeray tried his best to ensure that Waze was not arrested.
Former Maharashtra chief minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis alleged that even before the former commissioner wrote to the CM, accusing Deshmukh of financial gratification, his predecessor Sanjay Jaiswal had also furnished evidence of a transfer racket in the police department but the state government refused to act.
Demanding that state Home Minister Deshmukh resign before any probe is ordered, Fadnavis alleged that the ministry is being run by proxy by Shiv Sena’s Anil Parab. “He (Parab) has defended Desmukh in the Assembly. So, is he running the Home ministry?” he said. Demanding that a probe in the matter also look into the big cars in Waze’s possession and who was using them, Fadnavis hinted at a bigger conspiracy at play, saying, “Are there bigger people involved?”
“The Maha Vikas Aghadi in Maharashtra has been formed with an intention to loot and not to govern. The BJP is going to raise this issue very strongly and will soon hit the streets,” Prasad declared at a press conference at the party office in Patna.
Meanwhile, terming the allegations against Deshmukh “very serious”, Shiv Sena MP and leader Sanjay Raut on Sunday said each alliance partner of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government needed to introspect. “The allegations are very serious. People call it a letter bomb but how much truth it has will be checked by the chief minister or Pawar Saheb. Anil Deshmukh himself has asked for an inquiry into the issue. In the wake of this incident, each alliance partner of the government needs to do introspection. They need to check if their feet are on the ground,” said Raut while speaking to media persons.
Earlier in the day, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had too opined that the allegations raised against his party colleague and the state home minister were serious. “Param Bir Singh is making wild allegations because he was removed as Mumbai Police Commissioner,” he said.
(With inputs from PTI)
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.