- NCP's Pawar said that the arrest of Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik is "politically motivated"
- Rane was arrested for his statement on slapping Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray
- Malik was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on February 23 in a money-laundering probe
NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday said that the arrest of party leader and Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik is "politically motivated" and attempts were made to connect him to fugitive Underworld don Dawood Ibrahim because he is a Muslim. He also dismissed the demands raised by the Opposition seeking the resignation of Malik.
Malik was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on February 23 in a money-laundering probe linked to the activities of Dawood Ibrahim and his aides. "Malik's arrest is a politically motivated one. He is being linked to Dawood Ibrahim because he is a Muslim. Malik and his family members are being deliberately harassed but we will fight back," the NCP chief said.
When asked about the opposition BJP's demand for Malik's resignation as a minister, Pawar said different yardsticks are being applied to Union minister Narayan Rane, who belongs to BJP, and Malik. "I don't remember our (Congress') former party worker Narayan Rane had to resign after his arrest recently. Tomorrow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is coming to Pune. He may explain more about it. Applying one yardstick for Malik and another for Rane shows that all this was politically motivated," he claimed.
Rane was arrested last August by the police at Sangameshwar in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra for his statement that he would have slapped state Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for forgetting the year India got freedom during his Independence Day speech.
Speaking about the alleged tapping of phones of select politicians when BJP was in power in Maharashtra, Pawar said, "I have seen the record of phone tapping of various leaders. It was done during the tenure of the Devendra Fadnavis government. Officials merely followed the orders and are now facing the consequences. I have never seen such a situation in the country before".
Pawar also took a swipe at BJP and Maharashtra governor B S Koshyari, who has not approved the names of 12 MLCs sent to him by the Maharashtra cabinet for more than a year ago for their nomination to the Legislative Council. "Maharashtra has the legacy of governors like PC Alexander among others. I should not talk about what the present governor is doing. The Central government is doing whatever it can do and Maharashtra is the latest example. Getting nominated to the Vidhan Parishad is one's democratic right. But a year has passed and nothing is being done. If someone has decided not to maintain the prestige of the Constitutional post then what's the need to comment," Pawar said.
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