BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday wrote a letter to fellow Deputy Chief Minister and alliance partner Ajit Pawar expressing his opposition to inducting NCP MLA Nawab Malik in the Mahayuti government.
Fadnavis’s letter came after Nawab Malik, who is out on bail, attended the Winter Session of the Maharashtra Assembly and met NCP leaders of the Ajit Pawar faction in the cabin of minister Anil Bhaidas Patil.
Nawab Malik was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in 2022 in a money laundering case linked to underworld don and terror financer Dawood Ibrahim, his brother Anees, Iqbal, aide Chota Shakeel and others. Devendra Fadnavis had also levelled serious allegations against Malik, including the charge that the latter engaged in dubious property deals with two Bombay blast convicts.
In the letter to Ajit Pawar, Fadnavis said Malik has the right to attend the assembly as an MLA and added that “we (the BJP) do not harbour any personal animosity or grudge” against him.
“However, considering the kind of allegations he is facing, we are of the opinion that it would not be appropriate to induct him in the Maha Yuti,” said the BJP leader. He also noted that Malik was out only on medical bail (and not regular bail).
“We agree that it is your prerogative (to decide) who should be inducted in your party. But every constituent party (of the Maha Yuti) has to think about whether it would harm the alliance. Hence, we are opposed to this,” Fadnavis added.
The BJP leader also said his party could not be on the same page as the “then chief minister” and the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government which had allowed Nawab Malik to continue as a minister even after he was arrested “on the charges of having links with anti-national elements”.
Nawab Malik was a cabinet minister in the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government at the time of his arrest.
NCP BACKS NAWAB MALIK
Following the criticism over Nawab Malik’s presence in the Maharashtra legislature, NCP spokesperson Suraj Chavan said the party backs the MLA. Chavan added that calling Malik “anti-national” or “guilty” till the charges against him have been proven in court is wrong.
NCP MP from the Ajit Pawar camp, Sunil Tatkare, also defended Malik and said the MLA has been a “senior colleague for many years”. Tatkare said there was no political discussion held on Thursday and the NCP leaders “met as old colleagues to inquire about his (Malik’s) health”.
“After coming to the assembly today, it is only natural that he interacts and meets with old colleagues,” said the NCP MP. He also added that Nawab Malik has “nothing to do” with the split within the NCP.
Earlier in the day, Shiv Sena (UBT) leaders Ambadas Danve and Sushma Andhare targeted the state government over Malik `joining’ the treasury benches, even though he himself has not made it clear whether he is affiliated with the Ajit Pawar-led rebel NCP group or the Sharad Pawar-led faction.