BJP protecting Ajit Pawar in irrigation scam case, alleges AAP

Mumbai: The Maharashtra unit of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) today protested against the decision of Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) to refrain from calling Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar for questioning in the irrigation scam case and called it a "mockery" of the probe.

"If a scam accused isn't questioned and grilled, is there really any chance of getting to the bottom of the scam? When a questionnaire is sent to the accused who has the luxury of answering it at his convenience, a lot of concealment is possible. This kind of questioning is a mockery of the investigation," AAP spokesperson Preeti Sharma Menon said.

She said, had the High Court ordered the VIDC Irrigation Scam inquiry to be monitored by the court, the ACB would not have dared to obfuscate the issue in this manner. "It is clear that the ACB is now run under the BJP government's directions and hence this slack form of inquiry," she said. "Maharashtra has been reeling under droughts and farmers' suicides since over a decade. The utter apathy of various governments was compounded by the brazen irrigation scam which has been estimated to be more than Rs 70,000 crore," she said.

"These huge sums of money which meant for irrigation projects were actually siphoned off by politicians' chosen contractors by escalating costs and failed projects. The result is that only 17 per cent of cultivated land in the state is actually irrigated and crops keep failing due to lack of water," she said.

"One marvels at the sheer brazenness of the current BJP- led Maharashtra government which states that NCP's Ajit Pawar is not an accused in the irrigation scam, because it was under Ajit Pawar's tenure that these scams were perpetrated, especially in Vidarbha," she said.

"Further, when Ajit Pawar was Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, the irrigation department continued being an NCP portfolio. Most importantly, in the cases filed in connection with the irrigation scam both in Vidarbha and Konkan, petitioners named Ajit Pawar as an accused," she said. "When the Nagpur bench of the High Court dismissed the case, it was on the grounds that the ACB was conducting an inquiry against both Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare, saying that it would like to await the results of this inquiry.

"However, today, we can see that the ACB inquiry is merely a sham and it is clear that the BJP-led Maharashtra government is protecting Ajit Pawar," she said. The AAP spokesperson said that Anjali Damania had demanded that the inquiry into the KIDC irrigation scam case should be by a court monitored Special Investigation Team. "She said that today's move is a travesty of justice and only goes to prove that the BJP and NCP are in collusion in this scam, which destroyed the lives of countless farmers in Vidarbha," the AAP spokesperson said.

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