Sources in the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) have "no idea" how Maharashtra BJP leaders Devendra Fadnavis and Pravin Darekar became involved in efforts to procure Remdesivir for the state.
The Mumbai police were investigating an input about the alleged hoarding and black-marketing of Remdesivir - a drug used to treat Covid-positive patients.
FDA sources told NDTV the agency had not given the BJP - or any political party - permission to procure the key medicine that several states, including Maharashtra, are struggling to find.
Controversy erupted in Maharashtra - with over 6.7 lakh active Covid cases as of this morning - on Sunday after Minority Affairs minister and NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik accused the BJP of trying to prevent the state from trying to stockpile Remdesivir for critically ill patients.
This was after the two - senior leaders and MLAs - turned up at a Mumbai police station late Saturday night to demand, vociferously, that two people - including a pharma firm owner suspected of trying to divert Remdesivir stocks - be released.
Police sources said Bruck Pharma owner Rajesh Dokaniya had been detained after they received inputs about a shipment of Remdesivir - of around 60,000 vials. Sources said Bruck Pharma was allegedly hoarding the drug desperately needed by doctors in Maharashtra and across the country.
It is understood that because of Mr Fadnavis, who is the former Chief Minister, and Mr Darekar's interference the inquiry is incomplete, and the police cannot find the missing Remdesivir stocks.
Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil has accused the BJP of trying to pressure the police and interfere in their work, and said that such attempts would not be tolerated.
"Police can call anybody for questioning and the BJP leaders' actions amounts to pressuring the officials and interfering in official work. Such action is not right... will not be tolerated in future," he said.
The BJP has yet to comment on these developments.
Sources said the FDA had approached 12 big pharma companies to supply Remdesivir to Maharashtra. Of these, BDR Pharma was the first to respond, followed by Bruck.
On completion of formalities Bruck was authorised to send shipments to the state. However, sources add, no shipment of Remdesivir has been received so far.
Meanwhile, Mr Fadnavis has claimed the state unit of the BJP had "taken the initiative" to reach out to various pharma firms because of the Remdesivir shortage in Maharashtra.
"It was our sincere attempt to get Remdesivir for Maharashtra... we were all trying when suddenly the Bruck Pharma official was detained by Mumbai Police," he said.
Don't spread rumours!— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) April 18, 2021
We demanded #Remdesivir for Maharashtra & not for BJP !
And accordingly meeting was held with concerned Minister.
I am not afraid of any threats.
I will keep working for Maharashtra, irrespective of cases they file against me.
Interaction with media at Nagpur pic.twitter.com/s5x0Ck9W3c
The state government is considering legal action against the BJP leaders, but Devendra Fadnavis has declared himself unafraid of "threats".
In Gujarat, meanwhile, police have arrested an official Bruck Pharma and his associate for allegedly selling Remdesivir on the black market. The BJP has not responded to this development either.
With input from PTI