After being cornered by opposition over presence of Nawab Malik on treasury benches during the winter session of Maharashtra assembly in Nagpur on Thursday, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has written a letter to Ajit Pawar, conveying his reservations about including the NCP leader in Mahayuti, the alliance of the BJP, Shinde Sena and Ajit Pawar's NCP faction.
Nawab Malik was seen sitting on treasury benches
Earlier in the day, NCP leader and former Minister Nawab Malik, who spent 18 months in jail over an alleged money-laundering case, aligned himself with the splinter group of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and was seen at the back of the treasury benches in the Assembly. This enraged the opposition, which questioned the BJP over its allegation of Malik being involved with 'anti-national' elements when he was in jail. The BJP and Eknath Shinde faction, citing the ED's accusation, had alleged that Malik had connections with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim as he was sent to jail over alleged transactions with the latter's sister Haseena Parkar.
However, after Malik attended the assembly session in Nagpur on Thursday and sat on treasury benches confirming his allegiance to Ajit Pawar faction of NCP, Fadnavis and BJP have expressed their objection to Malik's presence in the alliance.
Will not be right to take Malik in Mahayuti: Fadnavis tells Pawar
In his letter to Pawar, Fadnavis wrote, "Former Minister and Member of Legislative Assembly Shri. Nawab Malik came to the legislature area today and participated in the work. He has that right as a member of the Legislative Assembly. I make it clear at the outset that we have absolutely no personal enmity or grudge against them."
"But, in view of the kind of allegations against him, we are of the opinion that it would not be right to take him into the Mahayuti," he added.
"Power comes and goes. But country is more important than power. He is currently out on bail only on medical grounds. If the charges against him are not proved, we must welcome him. However, we are of the clear opinion that it will not be right to make him a part of the Mahayuti while there are such allegations. Admittedly, it is entirely your right to choose whom to take in your party. However, every component party has to think that it will not hinder the Mahayuti, so we are against this," Fadnavis went on to add.
"We cannot agree with the views of the then Chief Minister and the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, which kept him as a minister even when he was arrested on charges of having links with traitors. I hope you will note our sentiments," Fadnavis wrote to Pawar.
Nawab Malik, when asked about Fadnavis's letter to Ajit Pawar about him, refused to comment and gestured that he doesn't know anything.
This morning, Malik traveled to Nagpur for the Winter Session of the Maharashtra Legislature and surprised many by visiting the office of a leader affiliated with the Ajit Pawar faction within the Vidhan Bhavan complex.
Despite a somewhat embarrassed yet smiling demeanor, he engaged with numerous legislators and officials, exchanging pleasantries, shaking hands, and acknowledging others with waves. This marked his first appearance in a legislative session in nearly two years.
As the legislative session commenced, Malik took a seat at the back of the treasury benches in the Assembly, providing confirmation of his support for Ajit Pawar.
Pawar had not informed about Malik's inclusion: BJP sources
Sources within the BJP revealed that the sight of Malik entering the house and joining NCP (Ajit Pawar) MLAs left BJP legislators in sheer astonishment. Surprisingly, Ajit Pawar had not given any indication to the BJP leadership about Malik's inclusion in his party. In response, the BJP's central leadership was promptly consulted, and a decision was made to openly oppose Malik's entry into the NCP (Ajit Pawar), despite the potential public embarrassment it might cause Ajit Pawar. The latter has not yet responded to Fadnavis' communication, indicating a desire to engage in a discussion with Fadnavis before providing a reply to the letter.
From bashing BJP to becoming ally, Malik comes full circle
Malik had hit headlines when he took on NCB officer Sameer Wankhede over his raid and arrest of Aryan Khan in Coredlia cruise drugs case. Malik led the attack against the BJP while he was a minister in the MVA government, claiming that the saffron party was behind Wankhede's act of extortion against superstar Shah Rukh Khan.
His crusade, however, was cut short as he was sent to jail over alleged transactions with the sister of fugitive Don Dawood Ibrahim. He was in jail while the party split. It was DCM Ajit Pawar who tried for his release and hence, it was speculated that he would side with the Ajit Pawar faction.