Strong fissures seem to have emerged within the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government in Maharashtra, over the handing over of the Bhima Koregaon case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The Uddhav Thackeray led Maharashtra government on Thursday stated that it had no objection in NIA taking over the Bhima Koregaon probe.
Uddhav Thackeray himself seems to have made a U-turn on this issue, given that only last week he had taken a different stance.
He had said, “The State government was investigating the matter and nobody denied the Central government’ the right to investigate the case, but before stepping in on the case they should have taken the state government into confidence or at least must have let us know where we are going wrong with the investigation.”
Therefore, a week after expressing dissatisfaction towards the Centre’s decision to take over the probe without taking the Maharashtra government into confidence, the Maharashtra CM has now granted the state’s consent to the NIA over transfer of probe.
The decision has, unsurprisingly, not gone down well with the NCP. Expressing displeasure towards the Shiv Sena supremo’s decision in unambiguous terms, party leader and Maharashtra Home Minister, Anil Deshmukh has said, “The chief minister has the powers. He overruled my proposal and granted consent to NIA to take over the probe.”
He added that the Maharashtra government must have informed the Union Ministry that there was a need to reconsider its decision (to take over the probe).
This development is bound to cause a serious split in the Maha Vikas Aghadi Alliance that consists of the Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena. As far as the Sharad Pawar led NDA is concerned, the Bhima Koregaon probe has been at the top of its agenda.
Shortly after the present Maharashtra government had come into power, NCP MLA, Jitendra Awhad had requested it to drop charges against urban naxal Sudhir Dhawale, the prime accused in the Bhima Koregaon case.
Even the NCP chief, Sharad Pawar had put all his weight behind the party’s demand to help out the Bhima Koregaon accused.
Pawar had termed the arrest of ‘activists’ (read Urban Maoists) in the Elgar Parishad case as “wrong” and “vengeful”.
In fact, he had also demanded the constitution of a Special Investigation Team under a retired judge to be set up to carry out a probe into the action taken by Pune Police in the case.
The 79-year old NCP supremo had also gone on to demand suspension of the Pune Police officials involved in the arrest of the Elgar Parishad case accused.
He was highly critical on the issue of the matter being taken up for investigation by the NIA.
Therefore, while Sharad Pawar wanted the Pune Police to be investigated in the case, the Maharashtra CM has instead given his approval for an NIA probe against the Bhima Koregaon accused.
Bhima Koregaon issue has been at the core of NCP’s agenda. By giving his consent for NIA probe in the matter, the Shiv Sena supremo has thus completely defied the will of Sharad Pawar.
While Uddhav Thackeray is the Maharashtra Chief Minister, Sharad Pawar is being seen as the one calling the shots in the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance. But Uddhav Thackeray has actually overruled Pawar completely on this issue.
Now, with Udhhav Thackeray’s decision on the Bhima Koregaon case, the NCP and Shiv Sena are set to clash with each other. It therefore seems that Uddhav Thackeray’s U-turn on NIA probe into Bhima Koregaon case might actually prove to be the nemesis of the ruling coalition in Maharashtra.