Ahead Of Big Meet, Sena’s Shift On Maharashtra Home Minister: 10 Points

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All eyes on the New Delhi meet today as the Maharashtra government alliance battles a rift.

New Delhi/Mumbai:
Hours before Maharashtra’s ruling Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress coalition was scheduled to meet today to decide the future of the state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s party brought down the temperature a notch on the matter. Despite former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh’s allegations against the senior NCP leader, the Shiv Sena has questioned the need for his resignation if the key parties are open to the idea of probing the issue. A letter written to Mr Thackeray by the former top cop, accusing the Home Minister of corruption, had caused tension within the alliance, with NCP leader Sharad Pawar ruling out Mr Deshmukh’s resignation even as the party left the decision to the Chief Minister. A senior leader of the state’s ruling alliance had told NDTV earlier that the allegations were “serious” and that Mr Thackeray himself felt he must go. The coalition’s crisis is linked to investigations into the discovery of an SUV carrying explosives on February 25 near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s home.

  1. A crucial political meeting is scheduled this afternoon in New Delhi, in which the NCP leadership could potentially decide the future of the 16-month-old state government, formed at the end of much drama in 2019. Today’s meeting comes amid a possible rift between the ruling partners, with the Shiv Sena, especially, strongly indicating that Mr Deshmukh is now a liability to the Uddhav Thackeray government. Yet, the party today also asked why the issue of his resignation was being raised repeatedly when both the Chief Minister and NCP chief, Sharad Pawar, had agreed that the contents of “letter bomb” must be probed.

  2. Mr Pawar has summoned the top leadership of the state, including Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and state party chief Jayant Patil, also a minister in the state government, to New Delhi today to take a call on the future of Anil Deshmukh. Sharad Pawar had suggested that former senior police officer Julio Ribeiro probe the allegations against the NCP leader but the retired cop has refused to get involved.

  3. Mr Thackeray himself has called for a meeting of the top officials of the state law and justice ministry at 4.30 pm today. This meet gains prominence in the wake of the Chief Minister’s decision to keep a closer eye on the Home Ministry. Mr Deshmukh finds himself in trouble because former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh has reportedly alleged, in a letter to the Chief Minister, that the state Home Minister had interfered with the probe into the Ambani bomb scare episode and also led an extortion racket that had suspended policeman Sachin Vaze – a Shiv Sena member – as a lynchpin. Mr Singh said the Home Minister had asked the police to collect Rs 100 crore every month and also instructed officials on handling cases and filing charges, bypassing him and other senior officers.

  4. Mr Singh was replaced as police chief last week owing to the alleged mismanagement of the crucial Ambani bomb scare case under his leadership. His letter to the Chief Minister followed his removal as Mumbai Police Commissioner. Mr Deshmukh has now threatened to sue him for defamation.

  5. Sachin Vaze, with a controversial history, was the initial probing officer in the Ambani bomb scare case, but later was found to a part of the conspiracy itself, according to an ongoing probe by the National Investigation Agency and the Maharashtra ATS. He had joined the Shiv Sena during an earlier period of suspension in the 2000s.

  6. According to the NIA probe, Mr Vaze was closely associated with the Thane businessman Mansukh Hiran, to whom the SUV found on Mumbai’s Carmichael Road was traced back. The auto parts dealer had reported the vehicle as stolen a week before it was found near Antilia, Mr Ambani’s residence.

  7. Mr Hiran was then found dead under mysterious circumstances in a Thane creek on March 5. The Maharashtra ATS has arrested a former cop, now on furlough, and a bookie in the case of the death. The businessman’s wife had alleged Mr Vaze’s involvement in her husband’s death.

  8. Notably, Mr Hiran’s wife had also alleged that the suspended cop had used the same SUV for around four months till he returned it to Mr Hiran on February 5.

  9. Referring to Mr Vaze, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had earlier this month asked, “Is he Osama bin Laden?” The NCP chief had reportedly questioned the Sena’s involvement with a person as dodgy as Mr Vaze. A leader of had also termed the allegations against Mr Deshmukh “serious” while speaking to NDTV. However, Mr Pawar also raised the issue of the timing of the allegations.

  10. The Shiv Sena has meanwhile questioned the need for the NIA to get involved in the Ambani bomb scare case, which, according to it, the Maharashtra ATS could have handled. The NIA has now taken over the case of Mr Hiran’s death, too, under the instructions of the Ministry of Home Affairs.



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