By: Sushil Kutty
The Bombay High Court is right. There cannot be an independent probe if the Maharashtra Police or the Mumbai Police were to investigate the charge against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. Hidden in that observation was the hint to Deshmukh to resign. Now, the CBI will conduct a ‘preliminary inquiry’ and Deshmukh, taking the hint, has resigned.
There was nothing like “moral responsibility” as some people are suggesting. Deshmukh hadn’t any alternative and, being smarter than most, he took the hint. Has that put Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in a fix? There are already calls for Thackeray to take the hint and do a Deshmukh! That’s what BJP wants, but Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has other important business than help his predecessor Devendra Fadnavis regain power. The BJP and Fadnavis can’t wait to see themselves back at the helm in Maharashtra, they are so desperate.
Fact is, Mumbai and Maharashtra are in the thick of the second coronavirus wave, and the Covid numbers are stacked against both. Thackeray cannot just up and let go, leave the state in the lurch. Maharashtra had already got a taste of the “double-engine” Government that the BJP keeps talking about. Then again, if Uddhav Thackeray resigns, what will happen to the Maha Vikas Aghadi, and the MVA Government led by him so far?
The Shiv Sena will not and cannot be part of an alliance or Government which is not led by a Thackeray. And it’s unlikely that Sharad Pawar or Sonia Gandhi will accept Aditya Thackeray as a replacement. The bottom-line is if Uddhav Thackeray resigns, the entire MVA edifice will collapse. In fact, come to think of it, there cannot be anybody else acceptable who can helm the MVA Government, no matter which other leader from any of the three constituents is picked.
Besides, Anil Deshmukh’s resignation, even indictment, will not make a difference. Police officer Param Bir Singh could be anybody’s pawn. What’s irrefutable is that the buck stopped at Home Minister Anil Deshmukh’s table. If, like some in the “Godi Media” are surmising, there’s a third, so far unknown, unidentified face involved, that’s for the CBI to unmask. So far the only person who has come out openly to talk of “Vasuli” is Param Bir Singh.
The demoted ex-Mumbai Police Commissioner, now posted to the Home Guards, has alleged that Deshmukh asked Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze to collect Rs 100 crore from 1,750 bars and restaurants in Mumbai. A single charge made in an email Singh mailed to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, and then taken to the Supreme Court when Uddhav Thackeray’s silence started bugging Singh. The question is, how far will Param Bir Singh go, and is he holding other evidence that could nail Deshmukh/unknown others?
On the face of it, it’s unbelievable that Singh did not put a halt to extortion taking place right under his nose. Also, why did Singh wait till he was evicted from his coveted post to go rat? Of course, it’s his word against Uddhav Thackeray’s that he had informed the Chief Minister. Even if he had actually told the Chief Minister, what did he expect the CM to do? The right person to take the issue/grievance to was NCP heavyweight Sharad Pawar, who effectively controls the MVA and the Maha Vikas Aghadi Government.
Even on Monday, after the High Court asked the CBI to take a hand, Anil Deshmukh went and sought permission from Sharad Pawar before making a cameo appearance before the Chief Minister. The point is Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray have a nice equation and neither subtraction nor division will undo it. The Congress has from word go played a game of watch and watch, being happy to be in a non-BJP govt.
So, the CBI will do a two-minute Maggi investigation. Then, if it finds credible dirt, will the caged parrot carry out a full and final probe. The question is what more dirt can the CBI find that the NIA hasn’t already unearthed? Sachin Vaze has been singing like a canary and he hasn’t named Deshmukh, yet. Neither has Vaze’s girlfriend, the one with the cash counting machine! And, it’s very unlikely that the CBI has a longer arm of the law than that of the NIA.
The way things have been building up, this case is very murky and the water runs deeper than the Mithi River. The Bombay High Court bench has said some mighty fine things in its ruling on the ‘unprecedented’ situation that “none can see time, but many a time, time makes us see many things hitherto before unseen. So true. The proceedings of which we are seized lays bare incidents, allegations and approaches of a kind which, at least, the two of us have not experienced before.”
Seems like the two judge bench, which gave the ruling had time on their hands. “It is time that has made us realize that the realities of life would have to be examined to give shape to law, for, law would cease to serve its purpose if justice cannot be administered, they said, adding that the “very faith of citizens in (the) functioning of the police department is at stake… This Court cannot be a mere spectator in these circumstances.”
But, ask the citizen, and he will be the cynic. Everybody knows of the power-game being played out in Maharashtra and Mumbai ever since the MVA Government took charge of the financial capital’s coffers. The BJP just could not stomach the fact that power and pelf slipped out of its greedy fingers despite getting the most seats. Worse Hindutva ally Shiv Sena dumped fellow saffron BJP. Chances are nothing much will come out of any probe, preliminary or full and final. Politicians have the knack of altering equations, the entire algebra! (IPA Service)