22 Mar 2021: Sharad Pawar defends Anil Deshmukh, gets mocked by the BJP
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh was ailing and in the hospital, during the time he was allegedly discussing a Rs. 100 crore extortion racket with police officers, Nationalist Congress Party's (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar said today, ruling out the possibility of his resignation.
His defense came in response to former Mumbai top cop Param Bir Singh's corruption allegations against Deshmukh.
Here are more details.
Details: Question of resignation does not arise now, says Pawar
Addressing the media, Pawar said Deshmukh was in the hospital between February 5 and 15 and in home-isolation in Nagpur from February 15 to 27.
Deshmukh had contracted the coronavirus last month.
"We will share all these records with the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. The question of resignation does not arise now," he told the media.
Statement: 'Vague allegations leveled by Param Bir Singh'
Pawar said, "The important issue is the Ambani bomb scare case. After the arrests made by the Anti-Terror Squad, it is now clear who killed Hiren. During the investigation it will be revealed why did these two kill Mansukh Hiren."
"The Mumbai ATS is probing in the right direction. Now to divert that, vague allegations have been levelled by Param Bir Singh," he added.
Allegations: Singh accused Deshmukh of corruption last week
Meanwhile, Singh moved the Supreme Court today, seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the corruption allegations against Deshmukh.
Last week, in his letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Singh alleged that Deshmukh had appointed several top police officers for running an extortion racket.
Their meeting had allegedly taken place in February, he said in the letter.
Letter: What are Singh's allegations against Deshmukh?
Singh's letter to the CM also mentioned another meeting between the Home Minister and others, including Additional Commissioner of Police Sanjay Patil and the Deputy Commissioner of Police, where collection from hookah parlors was discussed.
That meeting took place at Deshmukh's official Mumbai residence on March 4, according to the letter.
Singh was removed as the Mumbai Police chief last week.
Criticism: 'How lies fall flat': BJP slams Pawar
Separately, leaders of the Opposition, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have slammed Pawar's claims and questioned the mismatch of dates.
"Sharad Pawar claims Anil Deshmukh was in hospital from 5-15 Feb and in quarantine from 16-27 Feb. But Anil Deshmukh was holding a press conference on 15 Feb...How lies fall flat!" BJP leader Amit Malviya tweeted.
Fact: Who is diverting the issue now, asks former CM
"It seems Sharad Pawar ji is not briefed properly on Parambir Singh letter. In this lefter only, the SMS evidence shows that the meeting date was mentioned as end of February. Now, who is diverting issue? (sic)" BJP leader and former CM Devendra Fadnavis said.
Case: What is the Mukesh Ambani bomb scare case?
On February 25, the police found an SUV with 20 gelatin sticks near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's residential building Antilia. It also carried a letter threatening the Ambanis.
The car was later traced to a Thane-based auto parts dealer Mansukh Hiren.
Hiren was found dead in a creek near Mumbai on March 5. His wife has accused Vaze of having a role in his death.