(EDS: Updating and combining related copies) Mumbai, Mar 21 (PTI) BJP leaders and workers on Sunday staged protests in various cities demanding resignation of Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh in view of allegations of corruption levelled against him by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh.
Days after he was shunted as Mumbai police chief, Singh wrote a letter to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray claiming Deshmukh, a senior NCP leader, had asked Sachin Waze, currently in the NIA custody, and other police officers to collect Rs 100 crore monthly from bars and hotels in Mumbai.
Deshmukh had dismissed allegations raised by Singh as baseless and termed them as a bid by the IPS officer to save himself from inquiry.
The protests were led by state unit BJP president Chandrakant Patil in Pune and Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis in Nagpur.
Altogether, demonstrations were held at more than 200 locations including in all district headquarters like Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Sangli, Satara, Kolhapur, Nagpur, Amravati, Jalgaon, Ahmednagar, Nashik, Aurangabad etc, and at various district headquarters and taluka places. At many places, BJP activists courted arrest.
MLAs of the BJP, senior functionaries and workers participated in these demonstrations.
Leading a protest in Pune, Chandrakant Patil said the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government had no moral ground to remain in power.
In Nagpur, demonstrations were led by former state energy minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule at Sanvidhan square where slogans were raised against the state government.
A demonstration was also organised by workers of the BJP Yuva Morcha outside the residence of Deshmukh in the city.
'The MVA government is creating a 'tamasha' of our beloved Maharashtra. We have launcheda strong protest demanding that the home minister step down immediately (sic),' Patil said in a statement.
Patil further said the 'unnatural alliance' of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, has 'criminalisdthe politics of Maharashtra. They do not have any moral right to remain in power when a senior bureaucrat alleged that a minister is involved in an extortion racket'.
If the chief minister has some sense of shame and responsibility left towards the people of Maharashtra, he should fire Anil Deshmukh immediately from his cabinet, Patil said.
'Had the Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis not raised the 'Antilia' bomb scare issue in the Vidhan Sabha, the government would have buried the entire episode,' the BJP leader alleged.
He said Sachin Waze was reinstated against the legal opinion so as to make him an 'official collection agent for powers in the government'.
'Sachin Waze, Param Bir Singh and Anil Deshmukh perhaps are only pawns in the entire game. Real power (s) behind them need to be investigated along with their motives.
Once wazestarts speaking in the NIA interrogation, more skeletons will tumble out from the government's closet,' the statement quoted Patil as saying.
Param Bir Singh was shunted out as Mumbai police commissioner in the midst of investigation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into recovery of an explosives- laden vehicle which was found parked outside the south Mumbai residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani last month. PTI MR CLS CORR NSK NSK