Former Chief Minister and Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis on Friday questioned the clean chit given to former Deputy Chief Minister and Water Resources Minister Ajit Pawar by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in the multi-crore irrigation scam that rocked the state about a decade ago.
He said that the ACB findings that led to the agency exonerating Pawar of the allegations he had been facing would not stand legal scrutiny. Speaking to The Indian Express, Fadnavis said, “I don’t agree with the findings of the affidavit. How can one affidavit of the ACB contradict its own affidavit filed in the same case earlier. I won’t say that it’s a clean chit because not even 50 per cent of the tenders under question have been probed. I don’t think that the court will accept these findings as they are too summary.”
On November 27, in an affidavit filed before the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court, the ACB gave a clean chit to Pawar. The affidavit was filed a day before the Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena government took oath at Shivaji Park on November 28.
As reported by The Indian Express, in the 16-page, November 27 affidavit, Rashmi Nandedkar, ACB SP, Nagpur stated, “The Chairman of the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC)/Minister of Water Resources Department (WRD) cannot be held responsible for the acts of executing agencies, as there is no legal duty on his part.”
Nandedkar was referring to Pawar’s tenure as Chairman, Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation and Minister of Water Resources Department during the Congress-NCP government in the state.
Asked if his government played a role in facilitating the clean chit to Pawar, Fadnavis said, “It is a baseless presumption. I took oath of office as CM on November 23. On November 26, I had resigned.”
“Ajit Pawar, who took oath as Deputy Chief Minister on November 23, had tendered his resignation in the early hours on November 26,” he added.
“The affidavit was filed on November 27. Where is the question of my government intervening in the matter. Secondly, the investigations in the irrigation scam are ongoing. Thirdly, and most importantly, such matters don’t come to the CM or government. The investigating agencies pursue them as per process,” he said.
Asked if there was a possibility of a Congress-NCP deal to bail out Pawar in the irrigation scam before forming the Maha Vikas Aghadi, leading to the filing of affidavit on November 27, Fadnavis said, “It needs to be probed.”