Mumbai: Hours after the Bombay High Court ordered a preliminary probe by the CBI into corruption charges against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Monday, he submitted his resignation to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. Deshmukh met NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who also advised him to step down in the wake of the court order. Late on Monday, Governor BS Koshyari on accepted Deshmukh’s resignation.
“I do not have the moral right to continue in office after the court order. I have decided to quit. Kindly relieve me from my post,” his resignation letter said.
NCP chief spokesman Nawab Malik said Anil Deshmukh met CM Thackeray and tendered his resignation. “After the high court order, Deshmukh met Sharad Pawar and other party leaders and said he did not want to continue in the post. The party has requested the CM to accept his resignation, although there is nothing factually correct in the allegations,” said Malik.
After former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh levelled corruption charges against Deshmukh through a letter to Thackeray on March 20, the NCP had maintained there was no question of Deshmukh resigning. Instead, the party had claimed that Singh had made charges after being shunted out as commissioner. Deshmukh had refuted Singh’s charges saying the latter had made these charges after being transferred.
Pawar held two press conferences defending Deshmukh. In the meanwhile, the state government appointed a one-member committee, not a judicial commission, to inquire into the allegations made by Singh against Deshmukh. Retired High Court judge, Justice Kailash Chandiwal who heads the probe panel, will submit his report within six months. The BJP, led by former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, had been demanding Deshmukh’s removal from the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.
Deshmukh continued to face attacks for his failure to rein in the factionalism in the police force. He was snubbed last year, after he transferred 10 deputy police commissioners without keeping Thackeray in the loop. Party president Sharad Pawar had to intervene and only after his meeting with Thackeray was a fresh order issued.
NCP insiders admitted that Deshmukh’s performance in the state legislature had not been up to the mark, which gave the BJP an opportunity to further step up attacks against him. The Antilia bomb scare case and the Mansukh Hiran death case were recent examples, where Deshmukh had been unable to fend off the BJP’s attack. Notwithstanding the BJP campaign, the NCP had decided to leave him standing and did not divest him of the home portfolio.
However, after Monday’s order, the NCP was left with no option but to seek Deshmukh’s resignation, to avoid further embarrassment and attacks from the opposition.