9 "Inquiries" Linked To Ajit Pawar's Earlier Term Closed, New Controversy

Tue, 26 Nov 2019 09:23:58 +0530

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NCP's Ajit Pawar was sworn in as the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra on Saturday. (File)

Highlights Investigation has been closed into some cases linked to irrigation scam The timing of the move, however, raised questions Three parties have also asked court to call trust vote within 24 hours

The Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress have challenged in the Supreme Court the closing of nine corruption cases in the irrigation scam allegedly involving NCP's Ajit Pawar, who switched sides and became Deputy Chief Minister in the Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government on Saturday. The three parties have also asked the court call a trust vote within 24 hours and stop the state government from taking any policy decisions until it proves its majority in the state assembly.

No policy decision can be taken without proof of majority in a floor test, says the three-party alliance, the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi, which filed the petition just before the Supreme Court's decision on its earlier petition challenging the manner in which the BJP-led government took power.

Mr Fadnavis of the BJP and Ajit Pawar were sworn in on Saturday morning in a sudden, unannounced oath ceremony just hours after the Sena-NCP-Congress declared their intention to form government with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray as Chief Minister.

The oath ceremony was facilitated by a 5.47 am government order revoking President's Rule in Maharashtra, for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave an approval using a rare rule that allows such decisions without a cabinet meet.

Maharashtra: The battle for government formation is being fought in the Supreme Court now

The BJP claims the support of 170 MLAs, including all MLAs of the NCP. However, NCP chief Sharad Pawar has accused Ajit Pawar, his nephew, of misleading the Governor by showing signatures taken from NCP MLAs for the "Aghadi" alliance.

The alliance has now accused the Fadnavis government of dropping cases against Ajit Pawar as quid pro quo. Investigation has been closed into nine cases linked to the irrigation scam in which he is an accused.

The Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has said none of the cases are linked to Ajit Pawar.

"We are investigating around 3,000 tenders in irrigation-related complaints. These are routine inquiries which are closed and all ongoing investigations are continuing as they were earlier," said senior officer Parambir Singh to news agency ANI.

The timing of the move, however, has raised questions. The anti-corruption investigation was sanctioned by Mr Fadnavis soon after he became Chief Minister in his first stint in 2014. The scam involves allegations of a swindle of some Rs 70,000 crore in various irrigation projects when Ajit Pawar was Deputy Chief Minister in the Congress-NCP government.

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