Centre misusing agencies to ‘hound’ MVA govt, says Sharad Pawar

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MUMBAI: NCP president Sharad Pawar on Wednesday said Central agencies were being blatantly misused to destabilise the nearly two-yearold government led by Uddhav Thackeray. “CBI, ED, NCB and income tax department have been pressed into service…so far, it was targeting MVA leaders…now these agencies are targeting relatives of top leaders of Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena,” he said.

Expressing shock over the recurring CBI raids at former state home minister Anil Deshmukh’s residence, Pawar said, “I am told CBI set a new record by raiding Deshmukh’s residence on five occasions…CBI must disclose to the people the outcome of these raids.’’ Reacting to Pawar’s statement in Goa, former CM Devendra Fadnavis said the action against Deshmukh is on the directives of the Bombay high court, which ordered the CBI inquiry. He said Pawar “needs to worry about the Rs 1,000-crore deals that have been exposed…this network of dalals (wheeler-dealers) must be destroyed”.
How can an ‘accused’ become a government witness, asks Pawar

Earlier in his interaction with media, Pawar spoke on a range of subjects including searches at Deshmukh’s residence, the NCB case against Shah Rukh Khan’s son, the sugar crisis, lack of progress in talks between India and China, apparent disappearance of former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh, and the Lakhimpur-Kheri killings.
“One of the witnesses brought by the NCB (in the Aryan Khan case) is absconding as per records of the Pune police. How can an accused in a series of criminal cases be a witness for a government agency? Basic procedure has been flouted, witnesses were brought without verifying their credentials,’’ Pawar said.
More shocking is the fact that Param Bir Singh, who lodged a complaint against Deshmukh has gone missing. “After Singh’s complaint, Deshmukh had quit on his own to allow a fair probe, but now the former CP himself is missing. Quite shocking that a high-ranking IPS official who led Mumbai police is absconding,” Pawar said.
He said it was unfortunate that former CM Devendra Fadnavis compared the Lakhimpur incident with the one at Mawal a decade ago when farmers died in police firing. “BJP instigated agitating farmers, following which there was violence. Police opened fire to maintain law and order. Later, farmers confirmed that government was not responsible for police firing…NCP nominee Sunil Shelke still won the 2019 assembly election by a record margin of 90,000 votes.”
Pawar said both UP CM Yogi Adityanath and Union minister Ajay Mishra should accept the responsibility for the recent killings of farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri and step down. “Mishra’s son was arrested only after the SC stepped in and sought an action taken report,’’ he said.
On the situation in the sugar industry, Pawar said a bumper crop had put pressure to disburse remuneration. “Crushing season will start in a fortnight, so far the practice was to pay farmers in instalments, now suddenly, there is demand for payment in one instalment, which may not be possible for most units. If there is no change in attitude, then sugar mills in the state will meet the fate of textile mills in Mumbai,’’ he said.
Pawar also pointed out that after 13 meetings, there was no headway on the India-China border dispute. “We need a joint strategy, the NDA government must convene a meeting of political parties to take stock,’’ he said. (With inputs from Clara Lewis)

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