NCP supremo Sharad Pawar on Monday defended Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh against the extortion allegations leveled by former Mumbai Police CP Param Bir Singh, focusing on technicalities such as the date of the alleged meeting between Deshmukh and Vaze. Addressing a press conference for the second consecutive day in Delhi, Pawar claimed that NCP's Anil Deshmukh had been admitted to a hospital in Nagpur from February 5 to February 15 due to Covid-19 and that hence his alleged meeting with suspended inspector Sachin Vaze - could not have taken place. The entire defence is sketchy on account of no date being specified for the meeting by Param Bir in his letter.
Quite the opposite, Pawar's claims that Anil Deshmukh was quarantined around that time is challengeable as several videos shared on social media by the state Home Minister himself show that he was actively addressing a press conference after being discharged from the hospital on the 15th.
Quoting the video from February that defy Pawar's statements, BJP leader and former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis quipped, "who exactly is this person giving a press conference here?"
"Anil Deshmukh was under home quarantine from February 15 to 27, says Pawar. However, on the 15th, a press conference was held with the security guards and a media representative in front. Then who exactly is this?" Fadnavis tweeted.
It seems Sharad Pawar ji is not briefed properly on Parambir Singh letter.— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) March 22, 2021
In this lefter only, the SMS evidence shows that the meeting date was mentioned as end of February.
Now who is diverting issue? pic.twitter.com/CTHzQ7meZO
BJP leader Amit Malviya also pointed that out a scheduled meeting took place between a delegation of the Congress and Anil Deshmukh on February 8 and questioned whether the party leaders met the Home Minister in the hospital.
On 8th February, a delegation of the Congress party met Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh, claiming that influential voices tweeted against anti-India voices, under pressure from the BJP.— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) March 22, 2021
Where did the delegation meet Anil Deshmukh? In the hospital?https://t.co/j8twDYAI8t
However, Congress leader Sachin Sawant quickly clarified that the meeting took place over the Zoom app since Deshmukh was under home quarantine after COVID-19 recovery. He also quoted a tweet from February 7 to prove his statement.
It is pertinent to point out that Param Bir Singh in his letter has not mentioned the exact date of his meeting with Anil Deshmukh and has instead said in and around mid-February. Yet, Pawar provided a technical defence to refute allegations levelled against Deshmukh and presented an alibi to support his fellow NCP leader, though it came to be called out over the course of the briefing itself.
In an explosive letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, transferred Mumbai Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh had alleged that Deshmukh had met Sachin Vaze at his residence in mid-February and asked the inspector to collect Rs 100 crores for him every month, from various places across the city.
The Maharashtra BJP has demanded Deshmukh to step down from the post in light of the allegations levelled by Police CP Param Bir Singh and also called for the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to investigate the Rs 100 cr claim. The Home Minister has refuted the allegations and accused the cop of attempting to save himself in the case. Deshmukh also said that he might file a defamation case against the cop. On the other hand, Param Bir Singh has moved the Supreme Court seeking an impartial CBI probe into Anil Deshmukh.