Chavan also questioned the need for Fadnavis to communicate his opposition through a widely circulated letter on social media instead of directly conveying it to NCP leader Ajit Pawar.
“It can be understood that Devendra Fadnavis has the complete right to decide whether Nawab Malik should be taken into the cabinet but couldn’t he convey this small piece of information to Ajit Pawar directly? But you (Devendra Fadnavis) wrote a letter, and it was circulated nationwide through social media. Was this done because of Nawab Malik’s religion?” said Chavan.
“Allegations against Nawab Malik have not been proven yet. But still, he has not got a fair chance to prove his stand as it is not known whether the allegations are true or not,” he added.
He also said that Fadnavis has taken other leaders into the cabinet who have corruption allegations against them, even such leaders against whom allegations have been made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been included, so the reason that Malik was not taken because of corruption does not make any sense.
Fadnavis on Thursday wrote to his cabinet colleague and NCP leader Ajit Pawar, expressing opposition to the induction of Malik in the ruling ‘Maha Yuti’ or grand alliance in the state.
“Given that he is an accused (in a money laundering case), we are of the opinion that it would not be proper to induct him into the ruling alliance. Power comes and goes but the country is paramount,” Fadnavis had said.
“We agree that it is your prerogative (to decide) who should be inducted in your party. But every constituent (in the Maha Yuti) has to think as to whether it would harm the alliance,” Fadnavis said, adding, “Hence, we are opposed to this.”
Earlier, NCP leader Ajit Pawar responded and said he would present his point after Nawab Malik made his stand official.
“I received Fadnavis’ letter. First, I will present my point after coming to know what the official stand of Nawab Malik is, I do not decide who sits where in the Assembly, the speaker makes that decision,” said Ajit Pawar.
Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Priyanka Chaturvedi termed Devendra Fadnavis’s letter as ‘hypocrisy”.
“This is hypocrisy. There is a vast difference between their words and actions. This hypocrisy is because they are drunk on power. The public can see the compromises that the BJP made in Maharashtra for power. The public can see the betrayal that Eknath Shinde did to his party. The public can see all that Ajit Pawar did to give himself a clean chit. So, this letter is hypocrisy,” Priyanka Chaturvedi said.
Meanwhile, Jayant Patil of the Sharad Pawar faction claimed the letter by Deputy CM Fadnavis was only a way to inform the people that Nawab Malik had become part of the alliance.
“He (Nawab Malik) came to Vidhan Sabha and was sitting on the ruling party’s side. So, the BJP wrote this letter as a way of offering an explanation to the people (for the split in the NCP). Instead of sending a letter to Ajit Pawar, he (Fadnavis) could have just called and informed him. I think this letter was the government’s way of giving an explanation of Malik’s induction to the ruling alliance to the people of Maharashtra,” Patil told reporters in Nagpur.
Malik is currently out on medical bail after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested him in February 2022 in a money-laundering probe linked to the activities of fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim and his aides.
Malik was a cabinet minister in the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government at the time of his arrest. Malik attended the Winter Session of the Maharashtra Assembly here for the first time since his bail on Thursday.
He sat on the last bench in the assembly, next to the MLAs of the Ajit Pawar-led faction of the Nationalist Congress Party. (ANI)