Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh was ailing and in hospital at the time he was allegedly discussing a Rs 100 crore extortion racket with police officers, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sahrad Pawar said today, ruling out the possibility off his resignation. Former Mumbai top cop Parambir Singh's allegations against the home minister, he said, was meant just to divert attention from the Mukesh Ambani explosives scare case, over which he was moved out from the top post and into the Home Guards.
Addressing the media amid a political storm over Param Bir Singh's corruption allegations, Mr Pawar said Anil Deshmukh was in hospital from February 5 to 15. From February 15 to 27, he was in home isolation in Nagpur, he added.
Mr Deshmukh had contracted Covid last month.
"We will share all these records with the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. The question of resignation does not arise now," added Mr Pawar.
Mr Singh went to the Supreme Court today, seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the alleged misdeeds of Mr Pawar.
In his petition, he also asked the court to order that all CCTV footage from Mr Deshmukh's Mumbai home be taken into custody.
In his letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray sent last week, Mr Singh had alleged that the minister had appointed several of his officers - including Sachin Waze who has been arrested in the Mukesh Ambani explosives case - for running an extortion racket. Their meeting had taken place in February, he said.
But his letter also mentioned another meeting between Mr Deshmukh and others, including Additional Commissioner of Police Sanjay Patil and Deputy Commissioner of Police Bhujbal, where collection from hookah parlours was discussed. That meeting took at his official Mumbai residence on March 4, the letter said.
The state's opposition BJP pounced on the mismatch of dates.
The BJP's Amit Malviya tweeted: "Sharad Pawar claims Anil Deshmukh was in hospital from 5-15 Feb and in quarantine from 16-27 Feb. But Anil Deshmukh was holding a press conference on 15 Feb...
How lies fall flat!"
Sharad Pawar claims Anil Deshmukh was in hospital from 5-15 Feb and in quarantine from 16-27 Feb.— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) March 22, 2021
But Anil Deshmukh was holding a press conference on 15 Feb...
How lies fall flat! https://t.co/ceZGxFaIYz
"It seems Sharad Pawar- ji is not briefed properly on Parambir Singh letter. In this letter only, the SMS evidence shows that the meeting date was mentioned as end of February. Now who is diverting issue?" the BJP's former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said.
At a media conference today, Mr Pawar said: "The important issue is the Ambani bomb scare case. After the arrests made by the Anti-Terror Squad, it is now clear who killed Hiran. During the investigation it will be revealed why did these two kill Mansukh Hiran... on whose behalf".
"The Mumbai ATS is probing is in the right direction. Now to divert that, vague allegations have been levelled by Param Bir Singh," he added.
Thane businessman Mansukh Hiran is said to have owned the explosive-filled SUV found on Mumbai's Carmichael Road, close to Mukesh Ambani's house. The auto parts dealer had reported the vehicle as stolen a week before it was found.
According to the NIA, police officer Sachin Vaze was closely associated with Mansukh Hiran. The officer, who was initially in charge of the investigation, was later arrested in the case.