Former Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh had alleged that the state home minister was extorting money from bars, restaurants and hookah parlours in the city.
Nationalist Congress Party Maharashtra unit chief Jayant Patil on Sunday said there was no chance that state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh will resign from his post amid corruption allegations against him, reported NDTV.
“The Maharashtra government has decided that whoever is found guilty in investigation will be punished,” Patil said. “There is no question of the home minister resigning.”
Patil’s remarks came days after former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh alleged that Deshmukh was extorting money from bars, restaurants and hookah parlours in the city. The former police chief wrote that suspended Crime Branch officer Sachin Vaze told him that the minister had asked him to collect Rs 100 crore every month through illegal channels. He levelled the allegations in a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, days after being removed from his post. Deshmukh has refuted the allegations and said he will sue Singh for defamation.
Singh was removed as the Mumbai police chief amid the investigation into the explosive-laden car found outside industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence last month. On March 5, Mansukh Hiren, who is the reported owner of the car, was found dead near Mumbai. Hiren’s wife alleged that Vaze was involved in her husband’s murder.
Vaze was suspended and sent into the custody of the National Investigation Agency on March 15 for his alleged role in placing the vehicle near Ambani’s residence. Two days later, Singh, who was handling the investigation, was transferred from his position to the low-key Home Guard department by the state government.
On Sunday, Patil, who is also a minister in the state government, said that the contents of Singh’s letter will be investigated first. “Then we will probe who kept the vehicle in front of Mukesh Ambani’s house and who killed Mansukh Hiran,” Patil said.
On March 18, Deshmukh had claimed that Singh’s transfer was not done on administrative grounds, but due to some “serious and unforgivable mistakes” made by his colleagues.
Meanwhile, alliance partners of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi government – the NCP, the Congress and the Shiv Sena – will meet on Monday evening to take a decision on Deshmukh.
MVA government, NCP chief addressing charges: Congress
The Congress said that it would not be fair on its part to speak on the allegations against Deshmukh as the matter concerned the chief minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar, reported PTI. Deshmukh is a member of the NCP.
“Sharad Pawar has commented on what is essentially concerning a minister from that part of the coalition,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said. “I think it would not be fair for me to say anything, [besides] what has been said by Pawar in consultation with the chief minister.” Singhvi said that Maharashtra Congress in-charge HK Patil will speak more about the matter on Monday.
When asked about the BJP accusing the Congress of hypocrisy by not speaking on the corruption allegations, Singhvi asked if Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken about the corruption allegations against Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa. “There has been no briefing or comments from him [Modi],” Singhvi said. “Has the Home Minister [Amit Shah] even bothered to talk about Yediyurappa.” The Karnataka High Court had last week reinstated a land identification case against Yediyurappa.
“We cannot allow political thick-skinnedness to take us for granted,” the Congress spokesperson said. “People’s indifference becomes a breeding ground for corruption and it is to shock you out of your indifference that we speak to you through the media.”
Earlier in the day, Pawar had called the corruption allegations against Deshmukh “serious” and said it was the prerogative of Thackeray to take appropriate action in the case.
Pawar had said he would suggest that Thackeray seeks retired Indian Police Service officer Julio Ribeiro’s help to investigate the claims made by Singh. “Julio Riberio’s credibility is such that no one can interfere or influence his investigation,” he had said. “There has to be an in-depth inquiry into the allegations. The timing of these allegations against Anil Deshmukh has to be looked into. Why now?”