Rift In Maharashtra Alliance After Ex-Top Cop’s Letter Against Minister Anil Deshmukh

Anil Deshmukh has denied the charges and said he will sue Param Bir Singh for defamation. (File)

New Delhi:

Action on Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh after corruption allegation against him has created differences in the state’s ruling Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi alliance. A top leader of the alliance has told NDTV that Mr Deshmukh has to go as the corruption allegation against him is “serious”. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is also of this view, he said.

Jayant Patil, Maharashtra minister and state unit chief of Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party — to which Mr Desmukh belongs — however differed. “The letter (Param Bir Singh’s letter to the Chief Minister) is a reaction after Maharashtra Chief Minister and Home Minister decided to take a tough stand. There is no question of replacing Maharashtra Home Minister,” he told NDTV.

A meeting is likely to be held in Delhi this evening between the Shiv Sena leaders and NCP chief Sharad Pawar, the leader said.

The ruling alliance has landed in controversy after Param Bir Singh — replaced as Mumbai Police Commissioner over “unforgivable” lapses in the Mukesh Ambani security scare probe — accused Mr Deshmukh of corruption and interference in police work.

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Mr Deshmukh has denied the charges and said he will sue Mr Singh for defamation.

The state’s opposition BJP has called for his removal. “We demand Home Minister’s resignation. If he doesn’t, then Chief Minister must remove him,” Mr Thackeray’s predecessor, the BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis, has said. Calling for an impartial probe, he added, “The letter also states that Chief Minister was intimated about this earlier so why didn’t he act on it?”

In a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Mr Singh had said the home minister had asked several officers including Sachin Waze who has been arrested in the Mukesh Ambani case – to run an extortion racket.

They were set them a target of Rs 100 crore every month and asked to collect the money from restaurants, pubs, bars and hookah parlours. The demand, he said, was made in February.

Alleging that he has been made a “scapegoat”, Mr Singh wrote that the Home Minister, on several occasions, had instructed police officers on how to handle cases and file charges, bypassing him and other senior officers.

The minister, he said, had been “unhappy” with him for his resistance in filing an abetment to suicide case in the death of parliamentarian Mohanbhai Sanjibhai Delkar against officials in Dadra and Nagar Haveli that would have earned him “political mileage”.

The former police chief also wrote that he had pointed out the “misdeeds” during a briefing at Mr Thackeray’s home following the Mukesh Ambani incident in mid-March. He said he has also briefed the Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Pawar and other senior ministers. “I noticed that some of the Ministers were already aware about some aspects mentioned by me,” he wrote.

Param Bir Singh was transferred to the Home Guard on Wednesday after police officer Sachin Waze arrested in the case involving a car full of explosives found near the home of Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani earlier this month. There were allegations that Sachin Waze was linked to the death of a man believed to be the owner of the explosives-filled SUV.

The investigation was taken over by the National Investigation Agency.

The probe had become an embarrassment for the state government, with the BJP accusing the Chief Minister of shielding Sachin Waze, who was once a member of the ruling Shiv Sena. Mr Deshmukh had later said that the Chief Minister had decided to remove Mr Singh as mistakes made in the investigation could not be condoned.

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