The debate between the BJP and Maharashtra's tri-party Maha Vikas Aghadi took a fresh turn on Monday, with several BJP leaders including former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis stepping forward to 'fact check' NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
The Opposition BJP in Maharashtra has come down heavily on Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh after former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh accused the former of corruption. Over the last two days BJP leaders and workers have staged protests in various cities demanding resignation of the Home Minister, and the Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 2 PM on Monday following an uproar in the House over the allegations.
Days after the Antilia bomb scare and the subsequent death of Mansukh Hiren, the NCP leader has found himself accused of corruption. Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh on Saturday wrote a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray alleging that Deshmukh had indulged in "malpractices" and asked suspended API Sachin Vaze to collect Rs 100 crore every month.
Now, Sharad Pawar's attempts to explain the situation appear to have only fanned the flames further. Mere minutes after the party chief contended that going by the timeline given in Param Bir Singh's letter Deshmukh had been hospitalised with COVID-19 at the time when he had been allegedly giving problematic instructions.
"If you see the former Commissioner's letter, he mentions that in mid-February he was informed by certain officers that they got such and such instructions from Home Minister...From 6th-16th Feb, Mr Deshmukh was admitted in the hospital because of COVID-19," the NCP chief contended.
But the BJP was quick to unearth a video clip posted by the Home Minister himself, showing that he had been holding a press conference within the specified time frame.
"Shri Sharad Pawar ji said, from 15th to 27th February HM Anil Deshmukh was in home quarantine. But actually along with security guards & media he was seen taking press conference!" tweeted Fadnavis while attaching the original post.
In a follow-up post, the former CM also suggested that Pawar was "not briefed properly" on Parambir Singh's letter.
"Some pictures from the hospital," jibed party spokesperson Sambit Patra sharing several screengrabs from the same press conference.
"How lies fall flat!" exclaimed BJP IT Cell Chief Amit Malviya.
"Sharad Pawar claims Anil Deshmukh was in hospital from 5-15 February and in quarantine from 16-27 February. But Anil Deshmukh was holding a press conference on 15 Feb..." he added.
But even as the BJP leaders railed against Pawar and Deshmukh, the NCP leader was quick to respond.
The Free Press Journal's Sanjay Jog reports that Deshmukh had spoken to reporters from Nagpur who had come to see him. He had interacted with them on the premises of the hospital after getting discharged, and before getting himself home quarantined.
A clarification also came from the Home Minister.