MUMBAI: Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh resigned on Monday following the order of the Bombay High Court directing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct a preliminary inquiry within 15 days into allegations of corruption and misconduct made against him by former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh.
The Bombay HC observed that charges against Anil Deshmukh are of a ‘serious nature", which warrant a preliminary enquiry by CBI. “There is certainly a legitimate public expectation of a free, fair, honest and impartial inquiry and investigation into such allegations which have surfaced in the public domain,” the court observed. The CBI will submit its probe report in the next 15 days.
After the order on Monday, Anil Deshmukh rushed to meet his party president Sharad Pawar and later deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar was also called for the meeting. “In the meeting, it was decided that the HC order of CBI probe is serious and it will not be right for Deshmukh to continue as the home minister. Once he steps down, he can approach the Supreme Court against the Bombay High Court order. Then, the NCP chief asked Deshmukh to submit his resignation to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray,” said the source.
Meanwhile, NCP MP Supriya Sule and state NCP president Jayant Patil were not in favour of sacking Anil Deshmukh. But Sharad Pawar rejected their arguments and asked Deshmukh not to waste more time and submit the resignations.
“There is a limit to defend someone. We cannot let the credibility and public trust erode further. Deshmukh's position was indefensible. Besides, prolonging this matter may damage them further,” said a NCP source.
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray accepted Anil Deshmukh’s resignation and forwarded it to the Governor for approval. The home ministry charge was given to close confident of Sharad Pawar, Dilip Walse Patil while his labour department charge was given to rural development minister Hasan Mushrif and excise to deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar.
Interestingly, the 64-year-old Dilip Walse Patil was the natural choice for home ministry when the Maha Vikas Aghadi was formed but that time Mr Patil was unwell and refused to accept the big responsibility. Therefore, the home ministry was handed over to low weighted Anil Deshmukh from Vidarbha on the insistence of Praful Patel and Supriya Sule. Dilip Walse Patil is the senior-most minister and closely worked with Sharad Pawar in past. Patil knows the law and he is a no-nonsense fellow. Earlier, he was also speaker of the Maharashtra state assembly and handled the House successfully and skillfully.