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Anil Deshmukh to continue as home minister, says Sharad Pawar, questions timing of allegations

After former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh dropped a letter bomb alleging that Anil Deshmukh wanted police officers to collect Rs 100 crore monthly from bars and hotels in the city, the BJP had risen its voice demanding his removal as the home minister.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 22, 2021 2:33:17 pm
Sharad Pawar newsNCP chief Sharad Pawar was on Saturday discharged from the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai (Express Photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

Questioning the timing of the allegations of corruption against Anil Deshmukh by former Mumbai top cop Param Bir Singh, NCP president Sharad Pawar on Monday said that he will continue as the home minister of Maharashtra.

“If you see the former Commissioner’s letter, he mentions that in mid-February he was informed by certain officers that they got such and such instructions from Home Minister…From 6th-16th February, Mr Deshmukh was admitted in the hospital because of Corona,” Pawar told reporters when asked about BJP’s demand for Deshmukh’s resignation.

“It is clear that during the period about which the allegations were made, Anil Deshmukh was hospitalised. As this is clear, such demands hold no power,” he added.

Further, stating that the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad has arrested two people in the Mukesh Ambani bomb scare case, the NCP chief asserted that the ATS probe is moving in the right direction.

“Further probe will bring the truth out,” he told reporters adding that attempts are being made to divert attention from the main incident of bomb scare outside Ambani’s residence and the killing of Mansukh Hiran being investigated by the Maharashtra ATS. Pawar further told reporters that a decision cannot be made very easily as the allegations levelled by Param Bir against Deshmukh are “serious and require an in-depth probe”.

Meanwhile, the BJP hit back at Sharad Pawar saying that Anil Deshmukh was holding a press conference on February 15 as against the claims made by the NCP chief that the home minister was in hospital from February 5-15 and in quarantine from February 16-27.

When the reporters asked Pawar about Malviya’s tweet, the NCP chief looked visibly rattled and said he has been informed that Deshmukh was hospitalised during that time, while trying to dodge further questions.

After former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh dropped a letter bomb alleging that Anil Deshmukh wanted police officers to collect Rs 100 crore monthly from bars and hotels in the city, the BJP had risen its voice demanding his removal as the home minister.

However, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government maintained that it was a “conspiracy” to defame the Maharashtra government. Senior NCP leader and state minister Nawab Malik had also earlier in the day questioned the “timing” of Param Bir Singh’s letter.

Malik, who is national spokesperson of the NCP, also said the party has decided that Deshmukh need not resign at this juncture. “A call on Deshmukh’s fate will be taken once probe is completed”.

Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena today said the Maha Vikas Aghadi government enjoys “good majority” and it will not fall because of “one official” even as it admitted that ex-Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh’s allegations of corruption against state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh have maligned the image of the latter’s department.

On Sunday, Sharad Pawar had said that Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will decide the fate of Deshmukh. Senior NCP leaders Ajit Pawar and state unit president Jayant Patil also met Pawar at his residence in Delhi the same day when it was decided that Deshmukh will not step down.

A major political storm erupted in Maharashtra after Singh, who was recently shunted out as Mumbai police commissioner, wrote a letter to Chief Minister Thackeray last week claiming Deshmukh had asked Sachin Waze, currently in the NIA custody, and other police officers to collect Rs 100 crore monthly, including Rs 50 to Rs 60 crore from bars and hotels in Mumbai.

Deshmukh had denied these allegations.

The NIA is probing Waze’s alleged role in placing an explosives-laden SUV outside Ambani’s residence on February 25. The federal agency was handed over the Hiran murder case on Saturday. Hiran was the purported owner of that SUV, a Scorpio.

With PTI inputs

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