Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Sunday claimed that Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh got his portfolio by accident, PTI reported. He made the remark in an article in Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece, Saamana, in which he also said that the state government had no “damage control machinery”.
“[NCP leaders] Jayant Patil and Dilip Walse-Patil refused to take responsibility [of the portfolio],” Raut wrote in his weekly column in Saamana. “That is why Sharad Pawar selected Anil Deshmukh for the post.”
Raut’s remarks came following the corruption allegations against Deshmukh, and the investigation into the Mukesh Ambani bomb scare case. The state government is also facing heavy criticism over suspended Mumbai Police officer Sachin Vaze’s involvement in the explosives case.
Earlier this month, former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh had accused Deshmukh of extorting money from bars, restaurants and hookah parlours in the city. In a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Singh said Vaze told him that the minister asked him to collect Rs 100 crore every month through illegal channels. Singh had also accused the home minister of frequently interfering with police investigations in various cases.
Deshmukh had rubbished the allegations levelled against him by Singh, claiming that the police officer was trying to cover up after mishandling the Ambani case.
Earlier on Sunday, Deshmukh said that a retired High Court judge would investigate the corruption allegations against him. He had written to Thackeray on Thursday, asking him to order an inquiry into the accusations.
In his weekly column in Saamna, Raut asked who was favouring Vaze. “Vaze was a mere API [assistant police inspector] in Mumbai Police,” Raut said. “Who gave him so much powers? All this should come out.”
The Shiv Sena MP added that the home minister’s position had “dignity and status”, and no person could work in the post while being close to “dubious characters”, according to NDTV.
“The Maharashtra government’s character has been questioned many times due to what happened in the past few months,” Raut added, according to NDTV. “No one from the government initially came forward to face those charges. Once again, it appeared that the government had no plans for ‘damage control’.”
Maharashtra minister and Nationalist Congress party leader Nawab Malik came to Deshmukh’s defence. “Anil Deshmukh is not an accidental home minister,” he told ANI. “If shortcomings have been brought forward in an editorial, then, it should be taken in a positive manner. I think the Home Minister will work towards overcoming those shortcomings.”