Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on Tuesday said it was acceptable for elected representatives to meet convicted criminals. He went on to say that, if politicians were barred from meeting convicts, it would become difficult to run Parliament or the state Assembly as criminals abounded in both Houses.
Deshmukh’s statement came a day after the Opposition criticised the government for not acting against Food and Civil Supplies Minister Baba Siddique for meeting Sanjay Dutt, who has been convicted in the 1993 blasts case, even though a prison guard was suspended for hugging the actor when he was released on bail from a Pune prison last week.
“What’s wrong if minister Siddique calls upon convict Dutt? They are family friends,” Deshmukh said. “Don't we (politicians) rub shoulders with criminals when they turn up in Parliament and in Assemblies?”
Deshmukh said there were different rules for men in uniform and politicians. “As far as politicians are concerned, the rules do bend," said Deshmukh. "If I were to issue a directive banning contact between elected representatives and convicted criminals, then what would we do with Congress MP Priya Dutt, who is Dutt's sister?”
Deshmukh said he had asked Satish Mathur, inspector-general (prisons), not to be harsh on the constables. Mathur, not Deputy Chief Minister RR Patil, had ordered the prison guard's suspension. “I haven't issued any order to withdraw the suspension,” Deshmukh added.