Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Monday denied that Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar had met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Gujarat last week amid the political crisis in Maharashtra, triggered by corruption allegations against state minister Anil Deshmukh.
“I can say with confidence that no secret meeting took place between Sharad Pawar ji and Amit Shah in Ahmedabad or anywhere else,” Raut said in a tweet. “Put an end to rumours now. This won’t achieve anything.”
Raut’s denial of the meeting seemed to be a departure from his remark earlier on Monday. “There is nothing to raise eyebrows over the rumoured meeting between Sharad Pawar and BJP leader Amit Shah,” he was quoted as saying by PTI. “In fact, a dialogue between leaders of Opposition parties is good. I am saying this provided they actually met each other in Ahmedabad.”
NCP leader Nawab Malik had also dismissed reports of the meeting, and accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of spreading rumours, ANI reported. “A newspaper in Gujarat published a piece of news that [Sharad] Pawar Sahib and Praful Patel met Amit Shah,” he said. “For the last two days, rumors are being spread on Twitter. No such meeting took place.”
Shah himself had refrained from speaking about the rumoured meeting. He said at a press briefing on Sunday that “everything cannot be made public”, ANI reported.
The Maharashtra government was faced with a controversy earlier this month when former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh accused Deshmukh of extorting money from bars, restaurants and hookah parlours in the city.
The state government is also facing heavy criticism over suspended Mumbai Police officer Sachin Vaze’s involvement in the Mukesh Ambani security threat case.
In a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Singh said Vaze told him that Deshmukh had 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.
On Sunday, Raut claimed that Deshmukh became the Maharashtra home minister by accident. He also criticised the state government for its inadequate response to the controversy.