On the eve of the budget session of the Maharashtra legislature, senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday said his party is firm on its demand for the resignation of state minister Nawab Malik, who has been arrested by the ED in connection with a money laundering case. Fadnavis was speaking to reporters here after chairing a meeting of the BJP’s members of the legislative Assembly and Council as the budget session is set to begin from Thursday. BJP’s state unit chief Chandrakant Patil has earlier said that his party will not let the budget session of the state legislature function if Malik does not quit the cabinet.
“Nawab Malik is facing charges for helping Dawood Ibrahim, a key conspirator of the 1993 Mumbai blasts, but the Shiv Sena-led government continues to stand by him. He should have been removed,” the BJP leader alleged. “I believe that by not seeking Malik’s resignation, the government is trying to appease a particular community and indulging in polarisation. It is unfortunate that the Shiv Sena-led government is acting in such a way,” the former Maharashtra chief minister added.
Malik was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) last week in a case of money laundering linked to fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim and his aides. He is in ED custody till March 3. Fadnavis claimed that it was the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government’s habit to mete out injustice to some BJP leaders and ministers, but cry foul that its own leaders are targeted. On the MVA’s rhetoric that Maharashtra will not bend, he said, “The MVA is not Maharashtra. The MVA is bowing before Dawood Ibrahim, but is being adamant with us.” “Why did NCP leader Malik buy land from a Mumbai blast accused? This sheds a light on the NCP’s character as well.
Mumbai was also attacked in subsequent years by the same accused. How can we forget it?” Fadnavis said. When asked about the election of Assembly Speaker during the budget session, the BJP leader said, “The MVA government has changed the rules for the election and now expects Governor B S Koshyari to approve it. How is it possible? I cannot comment on it further.” Meanwhile, the BJP decided to boycot the customary tea party hosted by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on the eve of the budget session, which will be held till March 25.