Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh’s statement on his movements during a period he is accused of meeting a controversial police officer to discuss an alleged Rs 100 crore extortion scheme was once again blasted by the BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis today.
The former Chief Minister claimed to have police reports to establish that Mr Deshmukh did go out after February 15, when he claimed he was quarantining at home.
“As per police records of VIP movement, Anil Deshmukh went to Sahyadri Guest House in Mumbai on February 17 and the Mantralaya (Maharashtra government offices) on February 24,” said Devendra Fadnavis, the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly.
“Deshmukh was in home quarantine from February 15-27 but met officers and was not in isolation,” he said, repeating that Sharad Pawar – who heads Mr Deshmukh’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) – “was not briefed properly yesterday”.
Anil Deshmukh is facing calls for his removal as state Home Minister after sacked Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh, in a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, alleged that the minister had drafted many policemen into the job of collecting ₹ 100 crore a month and these included Sachin Waze, the officer arrested in the Mukesh Ambani bomb scare case. The letter accused Mr Deshmukh of meeting with Sachin Waze at his home around mid-February.
Mr Pawar had on Monday told reporters that Mr Deshmukh was recovering from a COVID-19 infection during the period Param Bir Singh alleged he was indulging in “extortion activities” through police officers. He also said Mr Deshmukh was in hospital from February 5 to 15 and in home isolation in Nagpur from February 15 to 27.
But an airline ticket, which apparently established Mr Deshmukh had taken a private jet from Nagpur to Mumbai on February 15, soon started circulating online.
Mr Deshmukh posted a video last night detailing his activities and insisting that fake news was being propagated against him.
“On February 5, I tested positive for corona. I was in hospital from February 5 to 15. After my discharge on February 15, doctors advised 10-day home quarantine for me. So I took a private flight to Mumbai. And after that, on the doctor’s advice, I used to go to the park for pranayam every night,” Mr Deshmukh said in Marathi.
He said while in hospital in Nagpur and later during his home quarantine, he had attended meetings and events via videoconference.
“After home quarantine, the Maharashtra assembly Budget session was to start so to brief me on the questions and notices, some officers used to come to my home. I left home for the first time on February 28,” he said.
The BJP produced photos of what it said was a press conference addressed by Mr Deshmukh on February 15.