The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) now wants a probe into the alleged nexus between the union rural development minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and Congress legislator Dilipkumar Sananda.
Deshmukh is under fire from the Supreme Court (SC) for protecting Sananda's private moneylender father from police action in a moneylending case. The SC had slapped a fine of Rs10 lakh on the state government for the ex-CM's action of obstructing the course of law.
The home department paid the fine recently from the state exchequer. The opposition, farmers and activists demanded that Deshmukh be forced to pay the fine. Opposition leader of the legislative council Pandurang Phundkar alleged that Sananda and Deshmukh could be business partners. "No other Congress chief minister other than Deshmukh visited Sananda's hometown [Khamgaon] so frequently," Phundkar told the media at his Vidhan Bhavan office.
He said Sananda grabbed 10 acres of land belonging to farmer, Sarangdharsingh Chavan after he failed to repay a loan. Chavan moved the Bombay high court and later opposed the state's appeal in the SC unsuccessfully.
"Deshmukh got his punishment in the court though his party continues to pamper him for political reasons. Chavan is still waiting for justice because his land has been transferred to Sananda," Phundkar said.
He also alleged the state did not take action against Sananda and his three brothers for amassing more than 1,200 acres of land. "The land ceiling act allows an individual to hold only 53 acres. They grabbed land from poor farmers who could not repay their loans," he said.
Phundkar said he will drag Deshmukh and the state government to the court if they did not comply with the popular demand. "In the forthcoming budget session, we will ask the government why it paid for Deshmukh's act of favouritism."
Deshmukh was unavailable for comment but Sananda dismissed the charge as baseless. "We have no such business relations. I have been Deshmukh's supporter since 1985 and has never supported a party worker involved in illegal activity."
Speaking from Khamgaon, Sananda said the state should also probe into the disproportionate wealth amassed by the Opposition leader. "I am prepared to move the court to know more about Phundkar's illegal land holdings and educational institutes."