Maharashtra irrigation scam: ACB puts onus on former Deputy CM Ajit Pawar

Pawar was among the NCP ministers who were in-charge of the irrigation department at different times between 1999 and 2014 during the Congress-NCP coalition rule in Maharashtra.
Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar (File | PTI)
Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar (File | PTI)

MUMBAI: Former Maharashtra deputy chief minister and senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar has been named in the Rs 70,000 crore irrigation scam by the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) in an affidavit filed before the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court.   

While, the ACB has blamed him for being part of the overall ‘modus operandi’ in the scam, Pawar tried to defend himself by saying that he just signed the files that came to him from the officials.   

“Since the matter is sub judice, I shall not speak much. All that I did was just sign the papers that came to me from the officials of the department. I’ve done nothing wrong and I shall cooperate with the ACB as I’ve been doing till now. The government is doing its job and I’m doing mine,” Pawar said on Wednesday, reacting to the developments.   

Pawar’s party colleague and leader of opposition in the legislative council Dhananjay Munde, however, questioned the timing of affidavit while blaming the government of trying to divert attention of people from the issue of Maratha quota.   

Another senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal said that the ACB’s affadavit was politically motivated.   

“The fact that the Anti Corruption Bureau started  its probe before 2019 elections tells us a lot about the report,” he said.   

The government, however, defended the move. “We are strictly following the legal procedures in the case. There are numerous cases and we have to be very cautious about all the details. That is probably why the affidavit has been filed now,” said irrigation minister Girish Mahajan.   

Though, around 25 criminal cases have been filed in relation to the scam, this is the first time that the agency has named Pawar in the scam. Earlier former NCP state president Sunil Tatkare’s name had also appeared in one of the cases.

The agency has accused Pawar of involvement in the “modus operandi” — price escalations, forging of pre-qualification documents, releasing advances, starting work even before approvals to favour some contractors. 

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