Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday said Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar was trying to save the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in view of allegations of corruption levelled by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh against state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.
Speaking to reporters in Nagpur, Fadnavis contested Pawar's assertion that neither chief minister Uddhav Thackeray nor Deshmukh was responsible for reinstating controversial police officer Sachin Waze in the Mumbai police force last year.
Days after he was shunted as Mumbai police commissioner, Singh wrote a letter to the CM claiming Deshmukh, a senior NCP leader, had asked Sachin Waze and other police officers to collect Rs 100 crore monthly from bars and hotels in Mumbai.
"Waze was given important cases and also got key posts in the police department. Is it possible without the knowledge of the chief minister and the home minister?" Fadnavis questioned.
The Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly also questioned Pawar's statement that the latter would suggest the CM to seek retired IPS officer Julio Ribeiro's help for looking into the claims made by Singh.
Waze is in the custody of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for his alleged role in placing an explosives-laden SUV outside the south Mumbai residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani last month.
The NIA is also probing the alleged murder of Thane-based businessman Mansukh Hiran who was in possession of that SUV.
"As the architect of the MVA government (comprising the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress), Pawar is trying to save the government. Pawar's press conference today is an attempt to save the government. The presser is just a window dressing. Actually, it is an attempt to move away from truth," Fadnavis alleged.
He reiterated his demand for resignation of Deshmukh and a court-monitored probe into the allegations raised by Singh.
"Waze (a former encounter specialist who was suspended after the alleged custodial death of bomb blast suspect Khwaja Yunis in 2003) was reinstated by a committee headed by Param Bir Singh. But how is it possible that Waze was given important cases and postings without the knowledge of the CM and the home minister?"
"Pawar should say that Waze was reinstated on the instructions of the CM and the home minister, and with their blessings, he was given key cases and postings," the former chief minister claimed.
Fadnavis also said how could Ribeiro, who retired 15 years ago, can conduct an 'inquiry of Param Bir Singh and the home minister. Will he have that authority and can he conduct a fair probe?'
Meanwhile, BJP workers on Sunday staged demonstrations in Nagpur demanding resignation of Deshmukh over Singh's letter.
BJP workers led by former state energy minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule staged protests at Sanvidhan square and raised slogans against the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.
A demonstration was also organised by workers of the BJP Yuva Morcha outside the residence of Deshmukh in Nagpur.
Meanwhile, Fadnavis claimed that allegations were raised earlier against state Home department by a top police officer.
"Param Bir Singh is not the first person to raise such allegations. Earlier, a report was submitted by then Maharashtra DGP Subodh Jaiswal about a racket involving touts in transferring police officials in exchange of money, but the state government didn't take any action on that report.
"Jaiswal had submitted the report containing full transcript to the chief minister and the home minister via the then commissioner of Intelligence," he said.
Subsequently, Jaiswal opted out of an important posting as the director general of police and went on a Central deputation because the state government did not initiate any inquiry on the report submitted by him, Fadnavis said, adding that rather action was taken against the then state 'Commissioner of Intelligence' Rashmi Shukla.
"The current situation wouldn't have arose had the state government acted on the report of Jaiswal and Shukla," he said.
Fadnavis also demanded that officials and other persons who had used vehicles that were found possession of Waze be investigated.