A sensational allegation by Amruta Fadnavis, the wife of Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, that a bookie's daughter tried to threaten and blackmail her, sparked a political furore in the state assembly today. The accused woman was arrested this evening, hours after opposition parties questioned how the wife of the state Home Minister could be targeted in this manner.
Amruta Fadnavis had named a woman named Aniksha and her father in a First Information Report (FIR) filed on February 20. She alleges that the woman had tried to bribe her, offering her Rs 1 crore to intervene in a criminal case involving her father, who has allegedly evaded arrest for years. Aniksha allegedly also offered to give information on bookies "to help her earn money".
"If the Home Ministers' family is not safe, how can the people in the state feel safe?" Congress's Nana Patole questioned in the Maharashtra assembly as the opposition pushed for a thorough investigation.
Mr Fadnavis told the House that the designer ingratiated herself with his wife in an attempt to save her father.
"The FIR details the corruption and bribery attempt. Anil Jaisinghani is a bookie, missing for four or five years. There are 14 cases against him. His daughter Aniksha, who is educated, she got in touch with my wife after the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) came to power," Mr Fadnavis told reporters.
"She said I am a dress designer, wear my dresses, I do jewellery work," he explained.
The woman allegedly contacted Ms Fadnavis first in November 2021. After that, she met with her 16 times, Ms Fadnavis has said.
Ms Fadnavis said in her FIR that the woman sent her video clips, voice notes and messages from an unknown number on February 18 and 19. A day later, she went to the police.
"She requested me to wear products designed by her at public events, and that this would help promote her clothes, jewellery and footwear. I felt sympathetic...and said alright," Ms Fadnavis said.
In their first meeting, the woman had claimed to have lost her mother, the FIR says.
"In one meeting, Aniksha said her father had close relations with leaders of various political parties and later handed over a lakhota (paper envelope) to (one of the staffers) instructing her to give it to me. When I opened it, I found a handwritten note, but since I did not understand the content, I kept the paper aside," the FIR says, according to The Indian Express.
Ms Fadnavis alleged that the woman once lied to her bodyguard and sat in her car. She allegedly told her that her father had been giving information about bookies to the police and offered a plan to make money. "She (Aniksha) offered they can earn money by either instructing the police to take legal action against the bookies or they could also get money from them by not taking any action against them," the FIR says.
Ms Fadnavis said she stopped the car and asked the woman to exit. She also ignored calls from her. The FIR says on February 16 at 9.30 pm, Aniksha contacted Ms Fadnavis and told her about her father being accused in a case and offered Rs 1 crore if she saved him. "As soon as I heard that, I disconnected the phone call and blocked her number," she said.