Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar has hit the panic button. The NCP is floundering from pillar to post in order to save its face after it was reportedly exposed on Saturday as a party whose senior leader Anil Deshmukh, who was Maharashtra’s Home Minister at the time of filing this report, directed tainted and suspended cop Sachin Vaze to collect close to Rs.100 crore rupees for him every month. The same was revealed via an explosive letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh.
Sharad Pawar called for a meeting between top NCP leaders Praful Patel, Supriya Sule, Sunil Tatkare along with Ajit Pawar and Jayant Patil. Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena is also expected to join the meeting at Pawar’s Delhi residence, in which the fate of Anil Deshmukh reportedly, is to be decided. It would not be surprising if all MVA partners and NCP leaders retire into a comfortable corner after blaming Anil Deshmukh for all that has happened as if he asked Sachin Vaze to collect Rs. 100 crores on his own accord, for his personal use.
Sharad Pawar and the NCP have gone berserk. The NCP supremo, who has come to be known also as the supremo of the Maha Vikas Aghadi, is subtly being blamed for Anil Deshmukh’s alleged misdeeds. And that is big. Nobody usually dares say anything about Sharad Pawar without backing it up solidly. Yet, the strongest party within the MVA is today facing a PR disaster like no other. So, Sharad Pawar decided to hold a press conference himself. From what one could understand, Pawar said that the allegations against Deshmukh are “very serious in nature” and that CM Thackeray may initiate an enquiry against him if he so deems fit.
Pawar also said that the events of the past two days will have no bearing on the stability of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government. This, despite it being alleged that the dreaded ‘hafta vasooli’ culture has made a grand comeback in Maharashtra, and is flourishing under the rule of the NCP-Congress-Shiv Sena combine. And while Sharad Pawar may try and put up the innocent act, the letter of Param Bir Singh mentions clearly that senior ministers of the MVA cabinet were apprised about the dealings between Anil Deshmukh and API Sachin Vaze. Why then, did Sharad Pawar wait until today to host a grand press conference, only to call the allegations ‘very serious in nature’?
A senior NCP leader was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times, “It is a huge embarrassment for the party. The allegations of ‘collection’ are directly against the party leader who has already been in soup for the inept handling of the Antilia bomb scare and Hiran death case. He may be asked to resign but a cabinet reshuffle may not happen immediately. The additional charge of the department is likely to be given to either deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar or water resources minister Jayant Patil. Pawar is believed to be not very keen on holding the home department, and in such a case Patil will be asked to hold the portfolio once again.”
Anil Deshmukh is somehow allegedly being turned into a scapegoat for what seems to be a larger conspiracy being hatched in Maharashtra. It is not possible that Deshmukh would go to such lengths on his own accord. Central agencies must immediately flow down to Mumbai and investigate the startling claims made by Param Bir Singh against the MVA government.