On Nawab Malik, Devendra Fadnavis writes an open letter to ally Ajit Pawar
Devendra Fadnavis wrote the letter to Ajit Pawar hours after Nawab Malik turned up in the assembly on Thursday and sat with NCP MLAs from Ajit Pawar’s faction
MUMBAI: Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday wrote to his cabinet colleague Ajit Pawar to oppose the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) inducting Nawab Malik, an accused in an Enforcement Directorate case, in the ruling alliance led by Eknath Shinde.
Fadnavis, who wrote the letter hours after Nawab Malik turned up in the assembly on Thursday and sat on the treasury benches with other legislators from the Ajit Pawar-led faction of NCP, also posted the letter on X, formerly Twitter,
“Today former minister and MLA Nawab Malik participated in the proceedings of the assembly. As a member of assembly, he has a right to do so. We do not have any personal enmity with him but considering the allegations against him, we think that it will not be appropriate to include him in Mahayuti alliance,” Fadnavis said in the letter to Ajit Pawar.
Fadnavis underlined that Nawab Malik, was out on bail and had not been cleared of the charges levelled at him. “It’s totally your prerogative to decide who should be in your party. But at the same time, it is important and duty of every alliance partner to see that the decision should not harm the Mahayuti. So we oppose the inclusion of Malik.” he said in the letter.
Malik was arrested in February 2022 in connection with a money-laundering probe linked to the activities of fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim and his aides. Malik was in prison till August 11, 2023, when he walked out after the Supreme Court granted him bail on medical grounds. It was during his incarceration that Ajit Pawar switched sides and in July 2022.
On Thursday, Malik attended the winter session of the Maharashtra legislature in Nagpur for the first time on Thursday. He sat on the last bench in the assembly, next to the MLAs of the Ajit Pawar-led faction of the Nationalist Congress Party.
Opposition lawmakers promptly took a swipe at the Bharatiya Janata Party, given its stance on Malik in the past.
As leader of the opposition in the assembly in 2022, Fadnavis led the BJP’s attacks on Uddhav Thackeray over retaining Nawab Malik in his council of ministers despite his arrest in a case in which he was allegedly linked to anti-national elements.
To be sure, Malik declined to comment, saying he was told by the Supreme Court to not make any statement to the media. “I am in NCP and there is no split in the party. I would not speak on political matters but would be present in the house till the end of the session to raise my constituency-related issues,” he said.
NCP MLC from Ajit Pawar faction Amol Mitkari said Fadnavis should have conveyed his views in private and not put it out in public domain.
“If BJP and Fadnavis have objection about Nawab Malik, they had an option to inform Pawar in person. Without discussing in person, Fadnavis chose to write a letter and circulated it through the social media. I think this is not the way you work in an alliance…. Now Ajit Pawar will take a call on it.” said Mitakari.
NCP (Sharad Pawar faction) MP Supriya Sule said the letter by Fadnavis was unfortunate.
“For us Nawab Malik is a senior leader of NCP and we always stand behind him. A person is innocent till he is proven guilty. The court has given bail to Malik. Still Fadnavis wrote such letter which is unfortunate.” said Sule.