Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Friday said one of the two conversationalists in an audio tape, who was purportedly discussing a plan to ‘honey-trap’ BJP’s top civic leaders in Nagpur, is a BJP worker connected to top party leaders, former minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule and former MLA Sudhakar Deshmukh, and even had business relations with them.
The minister made these statements in a letter to opposition leader and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who had sought a probe in the matter.
Deshmukh has also released a few photographs, where one Sahil Sayyad, allegedly one of the two men heard on the tape, is seen felicitating and garlanding Bawankule, and standing behind Fadnavis in another photo.
In a rejoinder letter written to Fadnavis, Bawankule has dismissed the allegations and said Deshmukh should provide evidence of Sayyad’s alleged connections with him or apologise.
Bawankule has also released photographs of Sayyad with Congress leaders Nitin Raut, Sunil Kedar, and NCP leader Ajit Pawar.
The tape that went viral a few days ago has two persons talking of a plan to “honey trap” Nagpur Mayor Sandeep Joshi and senior BJP corporator Daya Shankar Tiwari, who, they say, were behind the problems faced by Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) Assistant Medical Officer Pravin Gantawar.
Both Joshi and Tiwari have sought the suspension of Gantawar, who has been accused of flouting service rules to run a private hospital and amass disproportionate assets.
The audio tape case is being investigated by the Nagpur Police’s Crime Branch.
Fadnavis had written to the home minister a couple of days ago, seeking a probe in the matter, after which Deshmukh had directed the police to look into the matter. Fadnavis had pointed out that the conversation in the tape also discusses “managing judiciary”.
On Friday, Deshmukh wrote back to Fadnavis, “One of the men in the tape, Sahil Sayyad, is a worker of your party and is very close to Chandrashekhar Bawankule and Sudhakar Deshmukh and, it is gathered, that he is also their business partner. That he is trying to honey trap your leaders is a very surprising matter. It appears to be a subject of your party’s internal disputes. Sayyad has also spoken (in the tape) about managing judiciary. Orders have been issued to conduct a probe.”
As reported earlier by The Indian Express, Gantawar has denied any connection to the tape.
Sudhakar Deshmukh also refuted the allegations, saying Sayyad was never a BJP worker and had no business connections with him. “Deshmukh should either prove the allegations or resign…,” he told The Indian Express.
In yet another development, a person identifying himself as the other conversationalist reportedly approached the police on Thursday to say that he himself leaked the audio clip “to serve a social cause”.
Deputy Commissioner of Police of Crime Branch, Gajanan Raj Mane, refused to comment on the case.
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