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Maha’tra alliance to meet Monday over corruption allegations against HM Anil Deshmukh

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Following recent corruption accusations on Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh by former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh, who was replaced over lapses in Mukesh Ambani security scare case, state Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and leaders of his alliance are likely to hold a meeting in Delhi on Monday to take a decision in this new turn of events.

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Sharing the information, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday said that he would suggest an independent investigation by former top cop Julio Ribeiro. A senior leader of the state’s ruling alliance also told media that the allegations against Mr Deshmukh are “serious” and CM Uddhav Thackeray thinks he has to go.

Talking to media in Delhi, senior leader of alliance party Sharad Pawar said, “The timing of these allegations against Anil Deshmukh has to be looked into. Why now? Param Bir Singh has made all these allegations after he was transferred.”

Former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh, who was recently removed as the Mumbai police commissioner over the Sachin Vaze case, has made grave allegations in opposition to Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh, accusing him of extreme malpractices in a letter to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.

In the sensational letter, dated March 20, Singh mentioned that Deshmukh had ordered Vaze to extort cash from bars, eating places and different institutions and given him a goal to accumulate Rs 100 crore a month.

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Upon being asked about the gravity of the accusations, Mr Pawar said, “Allegations against the Home minister are serious.  There were allegations that Home Minister had directed the police to collect 100 crore. There is no information on actual transaction of money. No Information on any money being transferred to the Home Minister or his staff.”

The NCP chief also said he would suggest CM Thackeray to hold an impartial investigation into the allegations. The investigating officer, he said, should be former Mumbai police chief Julio Ribeiro. “Julio Riberio’s credibility is such that no one can interfere or influence his investigation,” Mr Pawar said.

Meanwhile, pointing towards a rift within the alliance, Jayant Patil, Maharashtra minister and NCP’s state unit chief, said there is “no question” of replacing Mr Deshmukh. “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,” he told media.

Sharad Pawar suspects this move to be a futile effort to destabilise the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government in Maharashtra. He said there will be no impact on the MVA government because of Mr Singh’s allegations and it will complete five years, he added.

However, the rival BJP party in the state has demanded Mr Deshmukh’s immediate resignation or removal, while its members held protests in parts of Nagpur, Mumbai and Pune. “If ₹ 100 crore was the target by Home Minister (Maharashtra) then what was the target by other ministers,” said Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in Bihar.

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The ruling alliance landed in controversy after former top cop Param Bir Singh, replaced as Mumbai Police Commissioner over “unforgivable” lapses in the Mukesh Ambani security scare probe, accused Mr Deshmukh, in a letter to CM Thackeray, of corruption and interference in police work.

In the sensational letter, Mr Singh had said the home minister had asked several officers including Sachin Vaze who has been arrested in the Mukesh Ambani case, to run an extortion racket. They were set a target of ₹ 100 crore every month. He also wrote that the  state Home Minister, on several occasions, had instructed police officers on how to handle cases and file charges, bypassing him and other senior officers.

Mr Deshmukh, however, rubbished all the allegations and said that the former Mumbai top cop is trying to save himself as he is afraid that Vaze’s alleged hyperlinks to the Mukesh Ambani safety scare case and the dying of Mansukh Hiran will come out. The politician also alleged to sue Mr Singh for defamation.

Param Bir Singh was transferred to the Home Guard on March 17 after police officer Sachin Vaze, famously known as “encounter specialist” was arrested in the case involving a explosives laden SUV found abandoned near the building of Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani earlier this month. There were allegations that Sachin Vaze was linked to the death of Hiran, believed to be the owner of the explosives-filled vehicle.

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