FPJ Edit: Mumbai, once a grand metropolis, now reduced to being a mere cash cow for Maha Vasooli Aghadi?

With each passing day, it seems to be getting harder for the beleaguered Maha Vikas Aghadi Government to brazen out the deadly fallout of the bomb scare outside the house of Mukesh Ambani. It may not be clear as yet why the gelatin sticks-laden vehicle was parked outside the house of the country’s richest man, but what is crystal-clear that the brazen misadventure is proving very costly for the ruling coalition. Some heads in the Mumbai police have already rolled, and more might in the coming days. But it is in the ruling alliance that the crisis may have just begun to take its toll.

After former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh lost the last-ditch effort to prevent the CBI from conducting a preliminary inquiry into former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh’s charges of demanding Rs 100 crore a month, with the Supreme Court declining to stay the Bombay high court order, the focus may now shift to yet another letter bomb. The disgraced Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze’s four-page letter to the NIA court has shaken the three-party alliance to its core. He has alleged that the Shiv Sena Minister Anil Parab asked him to close the preliminary inquiry against the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust after taking Rs 50 crore.

Also, the good minister asked him to let go of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation contractors after collecting Rs 2 crore from them and close the inquiry about their fraudulent dealings. Media reports do not clarify whether Rs 2 crore in all was to be collected from 50 of them or from each one of them to close the inquiry. It is more than likely that each contractor was expected to shell out Rs 2 crore --- after all, the celebrated police officer and the honourable minister could not be so cheap, could they?

Hopefully, in the coming days more light will be thrown on the said trust and even about the inquiry against BMC contractors. Meanwhile, Parab, predictably, has rubbished the charge. Besides, he swears by Bal Thackeray to reassure us of his impeccable integrity. Of course, ministers of equally sterling integrity from other constituents of the ruling alliance as well were not spared by the notorious letter-writer. It is claimed that someone close to Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar asked him to collect a monthly amount of Rs 100 crore from illegal gutka sellers.

We have no idea whether this Rs 100 crore monthly collection was to be independent of the Rs 100 crore from dance bars, hotels, restaurants, etc., meant for the home minister. Since both Pawar and Deshmukh belong to the NCP, in the sharing of spoils of office, the Sena seems to have got a raw deal, isn’t it? On top of it, Sanjay Raut, the Shiv Sena spokesperson, has issued a clean chit to Parab, pointing an accusing finger at the evil BJP which is clearly desperate to see the end of the MVA government.

Meanwhile, there is the unfinished matter of the disgraced former Mumbai CP. He is made to answer why he picked up Vaze for reinstatement, who after quitting the police following his suspension had done rather well for himself as the spokesman of the Shiv Sena, and, having done that, why he insisted on assigning him the key post in the crime branch. While at it, why against all established norms did he directly deal with the junior officer to the exclusion of several layers in the uniformed force? Was it because Vaze used to do the dirty work of the CP as well as the ruling combine?

We recall a Shiv Sena functionary gloating over the good work of Vaze when the latter was tightening the screws against a noisome television anchor and a Bollywood actor who had the audacity to call in question the MVA. It should be recalled how the Sena functionary justified the Vaze-Singh teamwork, arguing that criticism of the Thackerays was wholly unacceptable. Also, if the CBI has been directed to conduct an inquiry into the charges of the former Mumbai CP, it will be only fair the charges levelled by his favourite police officer too get examined by an independent agency.

Now, whether or not the MVA lasts in power, whether or not the BJP stages a comeback, is the least of our concerns. We are appalled at the complete collapse of the police and civil administration in the once well-administered Maharashtra. People in the state may not have bargained for such a rotten regime that seems engaged full-time, as per its own hand-picked police officers, in collecting bribes unmindful of public welfare. Mumbai, once a grand metropolis, with its creaky civic infrastructure, has been reduced to being a mere cash cow for the MVA. It is significant too that the Sena rules the roast in the BMC as well. There seems no redemption in sight for the Mumbaikars, nay Maharashtrians.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal