Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said on Friday that he would first speak with Nawab Malik to understand the former minister's position about his political affiliation before explaining his Nationalist Congress Party group's stand on the matter.
Pawar was responding to a question on Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's letter to him opposing Malik sitting on a treasury bench seat on Thursday, the first day of the winter session of the state legislature.
”I have read that letter. First of all, Nawab Malik saheb came to the assembly for the first time yesterday. Meanwhile, the media showed on TV where he sat, why he sat and with whom he sat,” he said.
Ajit Pawar said his group of NCP joined the ruling alliance of ’Maha Yuti' on July 2 and Malik came to the assembly after all that happened.
”After hearing his (Malik's) stand, I will put forth my and my party's position,” he added.
Fadnavis on Thursday wrote to Ajit Pawar conveying his reservation about including Malik, an accused in an ED case, in the ruling ’Maha Yuti' alliance.
Out on medical bail after the ED arrested him in February 2022 in a money-laundering probe, Malik attended the winter session of the state legislature in Nagpur for the first time on Thursday. He was later seen in the office of Ajit Pawar-led faction of the NCP in the legislature complex. In the House, he was seen sitting in the last row, next to an MLA of the Ajit Pawar faction.
The opposition targeted the BJP, which is part of the government, pointing out that it had once dubbed Malik a "traitor" after he faced allegations of doing a land deal in Mumbai with fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim's aides. Malik himself has not yet made clear whether he belongs to the Ajit Pawar faction or the Sharad Pawar-led NCP.
In his letter to Ajit Pawar, who too is a deputy CM, Fadnavis said Malik has the right to attend the assembly as an MLA and added that "we (the BJP) do not harbour any personal animosity or grudge" against him.
”However, considering the kind of allegations he is facing, we are of the opinion that it would not be appropriate to induct him in the Maha Yuti,” the BJP leader said.
”We agree that it is your prerogative (to decide) who should be inducted in your party. But every constituent party (of the Maha Yuti) has to think as to whether it would harm the alliance. Hence, we are opposed to this,” Fadnavis added.