Mumbai, April 1 : Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil on Thursday said his party NCP had utilised the services of Eon Aviation, a subsidiary of D B Realty, for air travels of its leaders including Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar but before Shahid Balwa's role in the 2G Spectrum scam came to light.
Replying to a debate on the budgetary demands of the Home department in the Legislative Assembly, Patil said before his arrest in February this year, nothing was known about Balwa of D B Realty and commercial flights of his company were used by all political parties and leaders including those of Shiv Sena and BJP.
Patil said no crime was registered against Balwa before his arrest.
"But, now being in his presence and using his company's planes are being highlighted. Do you consider everybody you know as your friend. We don't seek a person's character certificate before talking to him," he said.
He said Pawar may have known Balwa but that does not mean that he is his friend or partner.
Soon after use of the planes, the party has done cheque payments. On April 1, 2009 Rs 25 lakh, on July 22, 2009 Rs 58 lakh were given and Rs 50 lakh were given on Feb 20, 2010, on October 6 during elections payments were paid, Patil said.
Uddhav Thackeray has used the company plane for his travels all over the state since 2009 but not a single penny has been paid. Gopinath Munde, Kirit Somaiya, Venkaiah Naidu used its services in 2009-10 and payments were made after Balwa's arrest on February 22, 2011, he claimed.
Leader of Opposition Eknath Khadse said he just wanted to know if Balwa was travelling with Pawar on February 8, 2010 to Dubai.
"Balwa will not pay rent for travelling in his own plane," he said.
Earlier in the day, Khadse had alleged that Union minister Sharad Pawar had travelled on a plane owned by a company of Shahid Balwa of DB Realty, under arrest in the 2G spectrum allocation scam, to Dubai last year.
Khadse said Pawar, his wife Pratibha, Punjab Cricket Association president I S Bindra, BCCI president Shashank Manohar and his wife Varsha had flown to Dubai on February 8, 2010 along with Balwa by Eon Aviation, a subsidiary of the DB group.
ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat and Vinod Goenka of Dynamix were also in the aircraft, he alleged.
Claiming he had documents from the Air Traffic Control to prove the accusation, Khadse said if film financier Bharat Shah could be put behind bars for two years on the charge of talking to Dawood Ibrahim on telephone, why action should not be taken against Vinod Goenka, chairman of D B Realty, for his relations with the fugitive underworld don.
"Goenka is seen hugging Dawood at the marriage of his (Dawood) daughter in the wedding CDs," Khadse alleged.
Patil said Goenka and family have old ties with Sharad Pawar due to their businesses in Baramati.
"I have checked from senior police officials and found that the family has nothing to do with Dawood Ibrahim," he said.
After Patil's reply, Khadse said, "a CD is being shown on television that Goenka's brother was at the wedding of Dawood's daughter."
Patil said he would look into the CD and take action on merit. PTI