MUMBAI: The BJP has decided to reopen the controversial irrigation scam in which the leader of the Opposition and NCP’s Ajit Pawar got the clean chit in 2019. At that time, Devendra Fadnavis was the CM in the 80-hour government that saw Pawar as his deputy.
Newly appointed Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrashekar Bawankule has said he will demand reopening of the case. The then Anti-Corruption Bureau head Parambir Singh had submitted a closing report in the High Court with an ‘all clear’ to Ajit Pawar on the first day of the BJP-NCP’s short-lived government in 2019. The court is yet to accept the Parambir report.
When Ajit Pawar was the water resources minister in the Congress-NCP regime, there were allegations of irregularities against him, though his name did not appear in FIRs. Another former Anti-Corruption Bureau chief Sanjay Barve had told the High Court in November 2018 that Ajit Pawar had intervened in the process of contracts for irrigation projects. Despite spending huge amounts on the scheme, the area under land irrigation remained the same.
BJP Leader Mohit Kamboj has tweeted that “a big NCP leader will go to jail very soon.” Kamboj had earlier “predicted” that Congress’ Anil Deshmukh, NCP’s Nawab Malik, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut and former Mumbai police commissioner would be arrested by central agencies. His “predictions” came true.
NCP’s Dhananjay Munde said the move was a part of BJP’s blackmail strategy to malign those who did not bow to pressure. “Nothing will happen. We are open to any sort of inquiry,” said Munde, who is Ajit Pawar’s close aide.
Another NCP leader Vidya Chavan defended Pawar. She said the BJP had lost ground in Maharashtra.
“That’s why they want to threaten our leaders by raking up old issues. As long as people are with us, we are not afraid of anyone. We have seen how BJP has blatantly misused Central agencies to blackmail and threaten people,” she said.
Social activist Anjali Damania said the BJP was not sure how long the Shiv Sena camp led by CM Eknath Shinde would stay with it. “Therefore they are working on plan B to target and poach NCP MLAs,” she said. “If the Shinde camp leaves BJP midway, the party will use MLAs from Congress and NCP,” she said.
Alleged scam in irrigation dept
In 2012, it was alleged that inflated cost estimates and irregularities in dam-building contracts were handed out by irrigation corporations
The year was 2012 when Cong-NCP govt was at helm in Maharashtra
The purported government scam involved financial irregularities of K35,000 crore
May 2012: Whistleblower and chief engineer Vijay Pandhare reveals details about rampant corruption in Irrigation Department
Aug 2012: An NGO petitions the Bombay High Court to order an inquiry into the alleged corruption
Sept 2012: Amid allegations of corruption, Ajit Pawar resigns as state Water Resources Minister
Between 1999 and 2009, NCP leader Ajit Pawar was the irrigation minister of Maharashtra