Mumbai: In what could spell trouble for Maha Vikas Aghadi, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Friday expressed his displeasure at Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s move to hand over the politically sensitive Elgar Parishad – Koregaon-Bhima case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
“Law and order is a state subject. It is not proper to encroach upon the rights of the state. Maharashtra’s support to the move is also unfair,” Pawar said in a media interaction.
This comes after a Pune Sessions Court transferred the case to the NIA and directed all accused to be produced before the Special NIA Court in Mumbai on February 28 where the matter will be heard henceforth.
This is the first instance wherein Pawar – the architect of the MVA alliance of Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress – has taken public stance opposing the CM in the fledgling 75-day old government.
NCP leader and state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had said yesterday that the CM had used his discretionary powers to affect the takeover from Pune Police to the NIA though the Centre should have first discussed the matter with the state.
After initial resistance, the state government came around to the view that it had no objections to the transfer of the case to the NIA, as dictated by the Centre last month.
The Centre’s move came barely a couple of days after Pawar had written to the CM to set up a Special Investigation Team to re-investigate the case including the role of the Pune Police, while several NCP and Congress leaders have termed the entire case as fabricated and the Centre’s move as ‘unconstitutional’.
After Pawar’s letter, Deputy CM Ajit Pawar had convened a meeting of the home department and others to review the status of the case, and immediately thereafter, the Centre decided to hand it over to the NIA on Jan. 25.
The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the Elgar Parishad conclave, held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed, triggered violence near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial in the district the next day.
The Pune police have claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists.
During the probe into the police, the Pune police arrested Left-leaning activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao for alleged Maoist links.
(With agency inputs)