Mumbai: As Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik’s volleys against the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and its officer Sameer Wankhede continue, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to hold booth-level meetings across the state to highlight how the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government is “damaging the credibility” of central agencies and officers.
Over the next month, the BJP will hold nearly 20,000 booth-level assemblies across Maharashtra to talk about the failures of the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government. It will also talk about how the three-party coalition, comprising the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, is trying to deflect public attention from real issues with its alleged propaganda against government institutions.
The decision was taken at the BJP’s state executive meeting Tuesday in Mumbai, where it passed resolutions against the political situation in Maharashtra, and on what it sees as the criminalisation of politics in the state.
The BJP stopped short of openly naming the controversial Wankhede, the NCB’s zonal head for Mumbai, and declaring support to him in its resolutions.
Wankhede was heading the team behind the alleged drug bust involving actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan. The officer has been under fire from MVA leaders, particularly NCP’s Malik, for allegedly faking the entire case as well as a few other cases, including one involving Malik’s son-in-law, Sameer Khan.
“It is not about supporting a particular officer as a person. Our problem is, why is the government targeting particular institutions and officers and damaging their credibility?” BJP Maharashtra spokesperson Keshav Upadhye told ThePrint.
“The resolution was that there are basic issues in Maharashtra right now, such as help for farmers or electricity bills, where the MVA has completely failed. But to mislead people, there is a deliberate attempt to attack government institutions and deflect attention. It is not about supporting Sameer Wankhede or being against him; the question is, are you in favour of the anti-drugs movement or are you against it?” Upadhye asked.
Speaking at the state executive meeting Tuesday, BJP state president Chandrakant Patil said Malik’s constant attacks on the NCB and Wankhede are “a planned attempt to bring down the morale of such institutions”.
“In the Aryan Khan case, Nawab Malik makes accusations against the system every day. He is taking out things right from the caste certificate to the history of their family members. This a schematic attempt to bring down the morale of such agencies. We will hold 20,000 sabhas to take this to the people and the culmination of this will be to bring people to Mumbai in large numbers in December and show public anger against the government,” Patil said.
Nawab Malik’s unceasing attacks
Since early October, NCP’s Malik has been holding almost daily press conferences, attempting to punch holes in the Aryan Khan case. The leader has also alleged that the case was a conspiracy of the BJP to defame Maharashtra and the MVA government, and that it was executed for the party by Wankhede.
Further, Malik has claimed that Wankhede was in the habit of faking cases to extort money, and had forged a caste certificate to get the IRS job under the Scheduled Caste category, despite “being Muslim”. To support the allegations, Malik released personal documents of Wankhede, such as his birth certificate, the certificate of his first marriage, his photos with his first wife, his school leaving certificate and so on.
While the BJP has constantly slammed Malik and his allegations about the Aryan Khan case, it had earlier chosen to distance itself from the charges against Wankhede in particular.
Speaking to reporters earlier this month, BJP MLA Ashish Shelar said, “We will make it absolutely clear that it is not the job of the BJP to give a character certificate for Sameer Wankhede. Action must be initiated against those involved with drugs. The BJP believes that no one must be spared. And hence our opponents must refrain from diverting the subject unnecessarily.”
However, prior to Shelar’s statement, BJP’s Mumbai unit’s Other Backward Classes (OBC) wing had held a demonstration in Wankhede’s support last month. BJP MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar too had taken to the streets to back Wankhede last month.
(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)