Observing the working of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi is like getting a crash course on how not to govern an Indian state. As the unholy three-party alliance stumbles from one scandal to another, instead of pulling up its socks and making things right, the alliance is on a mission to go after those who exposed its nefarious workings. After the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly alleged corruption in police transfers in the state, the Maha Vikas Aghadi is now crafting strategies to go after the whistleblower IPS Officer Rashmi Shukla.
On Wednesday, the Maharashtra State cabinet met to prepare for disciplinary legal action against senior IPS officer Parambir Singh and Rashmi Shukla who have levelled sensational allegations against the Maha Vikas Aghadi.
The meeting which was held at the Chief Minister’s official residence was attended by the who’s who of the three-party alliance including Ajit Pawar, Anil Deshmukh, Jitendra Awhad, Anil Parab, Eknath Shinde, Balasaheb Thorat, Nana Patole to name a few. State Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbakoni was also called in perhaps to prepare for a legal challenge against Singh and Shukla.
“No officer will be spared if found guilty. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has also asked the chief secretary to prepare a detailed report on whether some officials have erred or not. If they are found involved, they will face action,” said Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.
The senior NCP leader added, “Phone calls are generally tapped only for preventing some serious action. It is done with the permission of additional chief secretary of home department. Current chief secretary of Maharashtra Sitaram Kunte was ACS (home) then. He is known as a very straightforward officer. The CM has asked Kunte to prepare a detailed report on the allegations levelled by Fadnavis.”
It is pertinent to note that the then Commissioner of Intelligence Rashmi Shukla has acted as a whistleblower as she blew the lid off the alleged corruption in various police transfers in Maharashtra. On Tuesday, Devendra Fadnavis armed with 6.3 GB data of telephone calls intercepted by Rashmi Shukla met the Union Home Secretary to demand a CBI probe into “corruption” in police transfers in the state.
Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole said, “We have come to know that there are some IAS and IPS officers who have been secretly helping the BJP-led Centre against the MVA government. They have breached the oath of secrecy, and hence they will face action.”
He added, “We are setting up an inquiry into the charges levelled by Singh in the letter. When Fadnavis was the chief minister, he used to give clean chit to his minister on his own.”
Maharashtra Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad who is best known for his affinity for hooliganism went on an almighty rant against Shukla. Post the state cabinet meeting, Awhad said, “The then Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Sitaram Kunte [current chief secretary, Maharashtra] has confirmed that he never gave the permission for the tapping of the phone numbers mentioned in the report. When asked about the insubordination, Shukla had told chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and home minister Anil Deshmukh a few months ago that it was a mistake committed by her. She had even apologised in writing and the letter is with the government.”
He added, “Shukla had taken permission for some other numbers to intercept, but the numbers mentioned in the report were intercepted. The officer did not follow the norms. State cabinet ministers were furious when the facts were discussed in today’s meeting. Legal action needs to be taken against those involved in this entire episode as it has brought infamy not only the police department but also to the state. This is a betrayal by the officer. The report submitted by Shukla was used politically two months after Shukla apologised.”
At a time when Maharashtra is reporting the highest-ever cases of the Wuhan coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, the Maha Vikas Aghadi in all its infinite wisdom has decided to tackle the officers cum whistleblowers who are exposing the alleged rampant corruption and extortion racket in the state instead of the deadly virus. It seems that the ‘Vikas’ in Maha Vikas Aghadi only stands for the ‘Vikas’ of the Shiv Sena – NCP – INC alliance while the state’s population continue to suffer from the inept and incompetent administration.