File image of NCP chief Sharad Pawar (right) and Maharashtra minority affairs minister Nawab Malik | Photo: ANI
File image of NCP chief Sharad Pawar (right) and Maharashtra minority affairs minister Nawab Malik | Photo: ANI
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Mumbai: The Maharashtra Home Department, which is controlled by the Nationalist Congress Party, will institute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to reinvestigate the Elgar Parishad case, according to the state minister for minority affairs, Nawab Malik.

This was the major decision taken at a meeting of NCP ministers held by party chief Sharad Pawar at the Y.B. Chavan Centre near Mantralaya Monday. The meeting was organised to outline the course of action and take stock of the numerous policies of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government.

Pawar has directed state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh to begin action on the SIT, which is to be headed by a high-level IPS officer.

“This probe will be parallel to the NIA probe,” said Malik.

Cracks have recently surfaced within the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, as the NCP and the Congress are angry with Chief Minister Thackeray’s decision to hand over the Elgar Parishad case to the NIA. Some ministers at the meeting felt the case should have been probed by an SIT within Maharashtra, according to sources present at the meeting.

Pawar has demanded the suspension of errant police personnel who botched up the Elgar Parishad investigation.

Also read: Sharad Pawar opposed NIA takeover of Bhima-Koregaon case but ‘handover was his idea’

Opposing the NPR

Another issue between allies Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress is Thackeray’s decision to implement the National Population Register (NPR) in Maharashtra from 1 May — sources said a majority of the ministers felt that the NPR should not be implemented.

A large part of the meeting was spent discussing this issue, and ministers sought to clear the NCP’s stand on the NPR. They felt it should be firm in its anti-NPR stand.

At present, only the Shiv Sena is in favour of the NPR, saying it is “in national interest”.

The ministers also wanted to know the party’s plans to oppose the implementation of the NPR in Maharashtra.

There have also been various protests across Maharashtra against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, and the proposed National Register of Citizens and the NPR. Pawar told Deshmukh to ensure that law and order is maintained, and to direct the police to not resort to excessive force when dealing with protestors.

Also read: Making an ideological compromise: How Maharashtra’s Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP govt can survive

Budget discussion interrupted

Given the agrarian crisis in the state and increasing unemployment, Pawar also discussed the various allocations in the state budget, which will be tabled in both Houses of the Maharashtra legislature on 6 March. However, mid-way into the discussion, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who holds the Finance portfolio, left the meeting upon receiving news of a massive fire at the GST Bhavan in Mazgaon. The younger Pawar rushed to the spot and spent a considerable amount of time taking stock of the situation.

Sources said after Ajit left, there wasn’t much further discussion on the Budget.

Other issues discussed at the meeting included the crop loan waiver, the Congress’ proposal to provide free power to consumers using 100 units of electricity (which has apparently been shot down by Ajit Pawar), extending the tenure of the various development boards, and the completion of the pending irrigation projects.

Sharad Pawar also expressed concern about the increase in crimes across Maharashtra, and reviewed the working of NCP’s ministers and their ministries.

BJP launches agitation

On the same day, the opposition BJP launched a state-wide agitation against the MVA government.

The BJP has made Hindu spiritual guru Indorikar Maharaj as its mascot for this agitation. He is from Ahmednagar, his comic one-liners are a hit among the rural population in Maharashtra.

Also read: BJP President JP Nadda calls Maharashtra government ‘unnatural and unrealistic’


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