‘No digs at family,’ ‘need to study issue’ — why Opposition is keeping mum on Fadnavis FIR issue

‘No digs at family,’ ‘need to study issue’ — why Opposition is keeping mum on Fadnavis FIR issue

As state legislature met Monday, Shiv Sena (UBT), NCP and Congress focussed on onion farmers and striking govt staff, but row over Amruta Fadnavis FIR was conspicuously absent from agenda.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar speaks during a joint meeting of the legislature members of the MVA as Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) chief Uddhav Thackeray looks on | ANI

NCP chief Sharad Pawar speaks during a joint meeting of the legislature members of the MVA as Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) chief Uddhav Thackeray looks on | ANI

Mumbai: Despite the Maharashtra state legislature being in session, the opposition has been relatively quiet on the controversy surrounding the FIR lodged on the complaint of Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s wife, Amruta Fadnavis, against the daughter of a bookie. 

As the legislature met Monday, leaders from the opposition parties — the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and Congress — focussed on issues such as the grievances of onion farmers and government employees striking work to demand the Old Pension Scheme. The row surrounding Amruta Fadnavis’s FIR against bookie Anil Jaisinghani and his daughter Aniksha remained conspicuously absent from the opposition agenda. 

Political leaders ThePrint spoke to gave multiple reasons for this — from fearing that the row would bring secrets about their own party members tumbling out of the closet to wanting to study the issue in more detail. 

On 20 February, Amruta registered an FIR against designer Aniksha Jaisinghani at Mumbai’s Malabar Hill police station for allegedly attempting to bribe her with Rs 1 crore to get cases against her (Aniksha’s) father dropped. Speaking in the assembly last week, deputy CM Fadnavis claimed that Aniksha befriended his wife, lent her designer clothes and jewellery, offered her a bribe to get the cases dropped, and recorded the conversations to “trap” him.

The Mumbai Police arrested Aniksha last week and her father Monday.

Bookie Jaisinghani is an accused in multiple cases, many of which were filed between 2014 and 2019, when Fadnavis was the chief minister of Maharashtra and also held the home portfolio.

According to Fadnavis’s statement in the assembly, Aniksha first made acquaintance with Amruta in 2015-16, when he was still the chief minister. 

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Opposition muted

It was Thursday that NCP’s Ajit Pawar, the Leader of Opposition, had first raised the issue in the Maharashtra legislative assembly. Pawar had asked Fadnavis, also the state’s home minister, for more details on the case. 

Fadnavis had then alleged that it was a conspiracy against him and that Jaisinghani had named several senior police officers and politicians, who will have to be “investigated” before any names are revealed.

The same day, opposition leaders such as Shiv Sena (UBT) Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi and Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole asked for a thorough inquiry. 

However, the opposition has remained quiet since. 

“Many MLAs are confused as to why senior leaders decided to end the matter in the assembly after Fadnavis’s response and Ajit dada (Ajit Pawar) also did not take it up later,” a Congress functionary, who didn’t want to be named, told ThePrint.

“One theory is that Jaisinghani has a murky past and no party wants to get entangled. Another theory is that there is a fear that politicians from the opposition side could be in the dock for having had any kind of association with Jaisinghani,” the functionary added.

Speaking to ThePrint last Friday, Congress leader Sachin Sawant had said that the issue was centred on Amruta Fadnavis and his party didn’t want to get into a mudslinging match involving politicians’ families. 

“But, we are firm that there should be a detailed investigation” he added.

Vidya Chavan, NCP women cell president, told ThePrint that her party intends to take up the issue but would like to raise it after a detailed study: “We will have to go into the depth of the issue and then take it up. People have also approached us with more information on it which we will have to first look into. It is a serious issue.”

Jaisinghani’s past ties with opposition parties

Jaisinghani has reportedly been associated with both NCP and Congress in the past. 

He was an NCP corporator from Ulhasnagar — his home turf — from 2002 to 2007 and had unsuccessfully contested the civic poll on an NCP ticket in 2012. Congress sources told ThePrint he was also associated with the party in the 1990s. 

Meanwhile, a viral photograph being circulated on social media also shows Jaisinghani with Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray. 

Responding to reporters’ questions on whether Jaisinghani had formally joined the formerly undivided Shiv Sena, MLA and former Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray said: “That’s okay, but who got him (Jaisinghani) to us? You should know it. The district that he comes from, who was the district president (of the party), guardian minister? I don’t want to get into it.”

For context, Eknath Shinde, who’s now Maharashtra’s chief minister, was the Shiv Sena district president for Thane, the district under which Ulhasnagar falls.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

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