Monday Musings: MVA on learning curve: Govt gets proactive to prevent another crisis
Last week, when the Nashik Police ordered an inquiry into allegations of corruption against Maharashtra transport minister Anil Parab, many were surprised. The probe was ordered by Nashik police commissioner Deepak Pandey, even as he maintained that these are allegations and that the complainant has not attached any evidence at this point.
The move exhibited both, the pro-activeness of the government to pre-empt the situation, and to prevent another crisis as it has barely recovered from the one that led to the resignation of Anil Deshmukh as home minister.
Allegations against Parab, a senior Shiv Sena leader, came barely two months after Deshmukh had to resign in view of a CBI probe into accusations against him of running an extortion racket in Mumbai.
Deshmukh’s resignation was a second jolt to the state government, as it came after the resignation of another minister, Sanjay Rathod.
Unlike the last time, the response from the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Parab’s case was different and a deviation from its earlier policy of either defending ministers facing allegations, or not responding till the case reached court.
A few days after a suspended motor vehicle inspector of the Nashik Regional Transport Office (RTO) Gajendra Patil accused Parab and six officers of corruption in transfers and postings in the RTO department to the tune of crores of rupees, a probe was ordered.
Parab, 56, is a three-term Shiv Sena legislator in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, the upper house of the state legislature. An advocate by profession, Parab is also minister for parliamentary affairs in the MVA government, enjoying much clout due to his proximity to Uddhav Thackeray.
Parab has refuted the charges saying the complaint filed against him, the state transport commissioner and five other officers, is baseless, politically motivated, and aimed at defaming the MVA government.
For the Shiv Sena, Parab meeting same fate as that of Deshmukh is unaffordable. The speed with which the Nashik police chief asked the deputy commissioner of police (DCP) to conduct a probe directing the DCP to submit the investigation report in the next five days, shows that the MVA government did not want to let the opposition overpower the situation.
The complaint was filed by Gajendra Patil via an email, sent to Panchvati police station in Nashik on May 16.
At the same time, the MVA has taken enough care to ensure the necessary precautions, so that the investigation does not reach the judiciary’s doorstep at this point. The government’s pro-activeness is a departure from the laxity exercised during Anil Deshmukh’s case. Within 14 months of the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government being in power, Deshmukh had to resign following allegations made by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh. He was left with no choice but to step down as the Bombay High Court ordered a preliminary CBI inquiry into the complaints, acting on a petition filed by advocate Jayashree Patil.
Patil approached the high court after the Malabar Hill police station did not take action on a letter she had written on March 21 seeking to register a complaint against Deshmukh. Hearing the case that time, a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni had said, “We agree with Jayashree Patil that directions are required to order an unbiased probe to unearth the truth”.
By immediately ordering a probe, the Nashik Police have pre-empted others from taking a route similar to that of Patil, seeking the court’s intervention.
Nashik police chief Pandey has asked two DCPs in Nashik to assist in the probe against Parab, also asking the complainant to be present on May 31.
The opposition, going by their usual playbook, has sought Parab’s resignation to ensure a free and fair investigation. However, the probe ordered by the Nashik police, has taken the air out of their demand.