Mumbai A series of tweets by Mohit Kamboj, leader of the BJP and confidant of Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, sparked a firestorm of speculation and also set the tone for the first day of the Assembly session.
On Monday, without naming former CM MP Ajit Pawar, Kamboj tweeted, “The irrigation scam should be investigated again which was closed in 2019 by Param Bir Singh.” The next tweet read: “Har har Mahadev, ab Tandav hoga” before claiming his strike rate was “100%” when it came to exposing opposition leaders. “Save this tweet,” he wrote. “A great NCP leader will soon meet Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh.”
Predictably, the response from the opposition was furious. Ambadas Danve, Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, wondered how a BJP leader could be informed in advance of any potential action by central agencies. “It shows how these agencies played into the hands of the BJP. This is nothing but a blatant attempt to threaten the rulers of Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi.
NCP leader and former minister Shashikant Shinde said Kamboj’s tweets on the eve of the new session were an attempt to silence the opposition. “They (the tweets) came on the eve of the monsoon session, which makes the intention of the BJP amply clear. There was a good word given in the matter a long time ago. If the state government wants to reconsider the matter, they are free to do so, but threatening any leader with imprisonment… It is unwarranted,” he said.
Ajit Pawar had been named in what is now called the irrigation scam when he was irrigation minister in the Congress-NCP government led by Vilasrao Deshmukh. The main charge was corruption in the contract awarded by Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) and Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation (KIDC) to private contractors. The Anti-Corruption Bureau began investigating the scam after a huge outcry arose from the opposition.
However, in December 2019, the ACB, which was then headed by Param Bir Singh, filed an affidavit before the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court that no physical evidence had been found against Pawar and that the PILs and civil claims had to be settled. by the court. This was when Pawar was sworn in as an MP in Devendra Fadanavis’ 80 hour government and that did not change when MVA came to power where once again Ajit Pawar was deputy CM. This is despite the fact that the Comptroller and Auditor General in his 2011 report pointed out several irregularities in the projects awarded by the state government. Singh was later appointed Commissioner of Mumbai by the MVA government. Singh was subsequently suspended for his alleged role in the bomb threat outside Mukesh Ambani’s house in Altamount Road.
BJP leaders said on Wednesday that the Shinde-Fadnavis government should call for a new investigation into the irrigation scam. “Although the ACB gave the chief a free kick, the final verdict from the Nagpur bench of the Bombay court has not yet been issued. The report submitted by the ACB in 2018 was contrary to that submitted in 2019 and we could ask for a new investigation,” the leader said, not wanting to be quoted.