Mumbai: Anil Jaisinghani, the bookie at the centre of the political controversy involving an FIR filed by Maharashtra deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ wife Amruta, was a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) member, according to the official records.
Jaisinghani — whose daughter Aniksha was arrested Thursday by the Mumbai Police for allegedly offering a bribe to Amruta in exchange for scrapping cases against her father — had won the 2002 Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation election on an NCP ticket, according to the civic body records. Ulhasnagar is a satellite town of Mumbai in the larger Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
Jaisinghani and his wife Karishma both contested the 2012 Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation poll on an NCP ticket, but lost to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates, according to a State Election Commission report ThePrint has seen.
Multiple sources from across political parties in Ulhasnagar told ThePrint Friday that Jaisinghani had also unsuccessfully contested the 2007 municipal corporation election, but not on an NCP ticket.
Jaisinghani, an accused in more than 15 cases involving cheating, forgery, betting and money laundering, has been arrested three times in the past and is said to be currently absconding. Many of these cases were registered between 2014 and 2019, when Fadnavis was the chief minister and the state home minister.
Speaking to ThePrint, Sanjay Tatkare, NCP’s Maharashtra spokesperson, said, “I am not in a position to tell you right now exactly why he (Jaisinghani) was given a ticket. As far as corporation elections are concerned, the candidates are finalised by local leaders and the district presidents.”
“What is happening right now and everything that Devendra Fadnavis said, is more important than who had given him a ticket in 2002. This is an attempt to twist the story,” he added.
Incidentally, it was NCP’s Ajit Pawar, Leader of Opposition, who raised the issue of the FIR in the assembly Thursday, demanding details of the case, to which Fadnavis elaborated on the involvement of Jaisinghani and the alleged trap for him.
Speaking to reporters outside the assembly, Fadnavis said that while he will not make allegations against any politicians as of now, there will be a thorough inquiry and the chargesheet will have many details.
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‘Elections just to fuel his clout’
Local NCP members from Ulhasnagar, however, distanced themselves from Jaisinghani, who lived in the town until he allegedly went absconding between 2015 and 2016. Ravindra Baagul, a former NCP corporator from Ulhasnagar, told ThePrint Friday, “He was never with us. Who is going to remember what happened 20 years back in 2002 or 10 years ago in 2012? I don’t know. This time, he is not with us.”
Another former corporator from Ulhasnagar, who did not wish to be named, said Jaisinghani wasn’t an active politician or interested in party affairs. “He had a dabang (strongman) image and he wanted to fuel that. Standing for elections and becoming a corporator was just a part of increasing his clout,” he said.
BJP’s Ajitsingh Labana, a former Ulhasnagar corporator whose wife had won against Jaisinghani’s wife Karishma, told ThePrint, Jaisinghani had allegedly got two or three “fake” cases registered against him for allegedly using criminal force and even attempt to murder, one of which was just five days before the 2012 elections. “But, nothing came out of the cases and we registered counter cases against him for filing false FIRs,” Labana said.
“As a corporator, he was never into public service. It is not like people would queue up outside his house or office with their problems. For him, it was all about clout,” he added.
According to Labana, Jaisinghani disappeared from Ulhasnagar after 2015-16, while his son Akshaan and daughter Aniksha continued to live in the town in their old house, a stone’s throw away from Labana’s.
(The report has been updated to reflect that NCP’s official spokesperson is Sanjay Tatkare, not Sunil Tatkare. The error is regretted)
(Edited by Anumeha Saxena)
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