Forty-eight hours after NCP leader Ajit Pawar tied up with the Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra, the state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has closed nine cases in the 70,000-crore irrigation scam. The ACB closed its file of inquiry, according to the report.
This dramatic development comes just 48 hours after the NCP leader extended his support to the state BJP, and was sworn in as the deputy of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
As per the document, dated 25 November, 2019, which was sent by the ACB's Bipin Kumar Singh to the Amaravati superintendent of police, the nine cases have been closed.
"In the future, the inquiry can be reopened on the orders of the court or government." the letter reads.
ACB DG Parambir Singh, speaking to News18, said none of these closed inquiries have to do with Ajit Pawar and none of the FIRs have been cancelled. "Forty-five inquiries have been closed till now. Twenty-four FIRs still stand. None of them have been cancelled. The inquiry is on," Singh said.
ANI reported that as per sources, none of the cases closed were against Ajit.
According to highly placed sources in Maharashtra Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), in the list of cases being circulated on social media, none of the cases belong to alleged irrigation corruption case against Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister, Ajit Pawar. pic.twitter.com/HVlttfhSmM
— ANI (@ANI) November 25, 2019
Opposition slams govt CPM leader Sitaram Yechury, tweeting this Firstpost report, said: "With such dubious deal making and brazen horse trading, yet another reprieve of a day by the Supreme Court for the floor test in Maharashtra Assembly could have disastrous implications for democracy. Eternal vigilance is essential." Shiv Sena deputy leader Priyanka Chaturvedi, tweeting out the copy of the letter, slammed the ruling dispensation:
वाह वाह सत्ता का खेल, अब पता चल क्यूँ हुआ ये मेल जाँच हुई फेल ना लेनी पड़ेगी कोई बेल Cases closed, corruption charges dropped, shamelessness to be in power exposed #MahaDeceit pic.twitter.com/dBELS9qgAA — Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) November 25, 2019
The Congress alleged that the only decision taken in "public interest" was to close "all cases of "corruption and malfeasance".
Its spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted:
Closing down ‘Corruption Cases’ is now being used as a bargaining tool to carry on an illegitimate BJP-Ajit Pawar Govt in Maharashtra.
This is a blot on democracy.
‘Contract Killing’ of democracy is now synonymous with ‘Contract Killing’ of honesty & accountability.
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) November 25, 2019
After remaining ensconced in his South Mumbai residence throughout Sunday, Ajit met Fadnavis late at night and held closed-door discussions.
Senior BJP leaders Chandrakant Patil, Vinod Tawade and Girish Mahajan attended the meeting held at the official residence of the chief minister, the party sources said.
A late night tweet from the CMO Maharashtra, however,bsaid the CM and the Deputy CM discussed various measures for rain-hit farmers. "CM @Dev_Fadnavis and DCM @AjitPawarSpeaks today met and discussed on various measures for additional support & assistance to unseasonal rain affected farmers. Tomorrow it will be further discussed with the Chief Secretary & Finance Secretary".
In a dramatic turn of events in Maharashtra, President's Rule was lifted on Saturday morning, following which Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar were sworn in as chief minister and deputy chief minister, respectively, by the governor. The development came hours after the new alliance of Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress arrived at a consensus that Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will be their chief ministerial candidate.
What is the Maha irrigation scam?
Fadnavis, after returning to power on 12 December, 2014, gave his assent for the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to conduct an inquiry into the irrigation scam.
The scam came to light in 2012 when Vijay Pandhare, the then chief engineer in the water resources department, wrote letters to the Maharashtra chief minister and governor pointing out the irregularities and cost variation in irrigation projects.
It was alleged that Ajit, who was Water Resources Minister between 1999 and 2009, had approved 38 projects worth Rs 20,000 crore in 2009 by tweaking rules and without clearance of Governing Council of Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC).
Moreover, despite huge expenditure, it appeared that there was no significant rise in irrigated land in the state. The percentage of irrigation potential had increased by just 0.1 percent in past 10 years, despite an expenditure of Rs 70,000 crore on such projects.
In 2012, the then Maharashtra government, led by the Congress' Prithviraj Chavan, had tabled a white paper on the issue in the Maharashtra Assembly, giving Ajit a clean chit.
After the clean chit, Ajit was brought back into the Maharashtra cabinet.
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Updated Date: Dec 07, 2019 18:22:36 IST