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Governments change, dons continue forever

Mumbai city news: Now, it is the BJP which could end up in situation like Sharad Pawar over what transpired in Nashik recently.

mumbai Updated: May 31, 2017 00:13 IST
Sujata Anandan
Sujata Anandan
Hindustan Times
mumbai,mumbai news,mumbai column
Pawar was never a good communicator and was not upto the tendency of reporters even then to seek sensational headlines. (HT)

Sharad Pawar’s reputation was first besmirched when Gopinath Munde went to town over his alleged links to criminals. I well remember, soon after the March 1993 serial blasts, at a press conference at Varsha, he was asked what action his government would be taking against Dawood Ibrahim whose involvement in the blasts had by then been incontrovertibly established by the Bombay police. Will the government seize his properties and freeze his bank accounts, he was asked.

Pawar was never a good communicator and was not upto the tendency of reporters even then to seek sensational headlines. “There is nothing to seize,” he said cryptically, without further explanation and that was widely interpreted as reluctance to take action against the notorious don.

Everybody knew Dawood had scores of properties in the city, but what Pawar failed to explain was that these were mostly all benami – sometimes not even associated with close family members who could be held guilty by association. Munde seized on that controversy as also on the fact that the Congress under Pawar had given tickets to two criminals – Pappu Kalani (now associated with the BJP) and Hitendra Thakur.

Without in any way being otherwise involved with the criminals, Pawar could never live down a reputation for fostering such anti-social elements. Now, it is the BJP which could end up in a similar situation over what transpired in Nashik recently.

It is a city and district adopted by Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for development, so BJP functionaries there should have been doubly careful. However, it is taking our politicians a little while to understand the perils of social media – in the years when television channels had just arrived, they were hard put to watch their words which they could not retract later as they were wont to do with the print media by simply stating they had been “misquoted”. Now, they are being tripped up again and again by ordinary citizens shooting videos on their smart phones and posting these on Facebook or Whatsapp.

That is exactly what happened when some police officers attended the wedding of the daughter of a relative of Dawood’s in Nashik last week; there are also varying versions of how exactly the bride was related to the don. Within hours the post was on social media. Nashik Police Commissioner Ravinder Singal promptly ordered a probe and then it emerged that not just the top cops but some BJP functionaries including Nashik Mayor Ranjana Bhansi and guardian minister Girish Mahajan had attended the wedding. Mahajan has since clarified that he attended the wedding at the invitation of the bride’s uncle who was a prominent Nashik citizen who was involved in philanthropy and social work.

Fadnavis has also asked for a report on what exactly transpired at Nashik. In the past, even Fadnavis was embarrassed when it came to light that a notorious gangster had the gall to seek a meeting with him in Mantralaya. That incident happened in October 2016 and brought Fadnavis much criticism, but then I noted that the man in question was the same externed criminal whom Ajit Pawar had admitted into the Nationalist Congress Party a few years ago and extolled his capacity to help the party grow.If the same man was now wooing Fadnavis, I do not think it was quite the CM’s doing – criminals are great at doing whatever it takes to get close to power.

All that the current dispensations can then do is be alert to the possibility and undertake some due diligence before exposing themselves to such goons. Sadly, that has been greatly lacking in the BJP now, as it was in the Pawars’ case earlier. The criminals then end up ruling the roost, never mind which party is in power. Things never do change.

First Published: May 31, 2017 00:13 IST