The BJP's ruling ally in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena, on Wednesday declared its equivocal support to Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria who is embroiled in a controversy over his meeting with former IPL chief Lalit Modi in London last year.
"Politics is being played over who Lalit Modi met in the past five to 10 years... Firstly, it was a union minister, then a chief minister, and now Mumbai's powerful police chief. A nonsensical attempt is being made to drag him in the dock," the Sena said in an edit in the party mouthpiece Saamana.
Lauding Maria's services, the party said he is credited with demolishing the image that Mumbai is a "soft target" and "go or come, Mumbai is your home" for terrorist elements.
"How can you overlook his great services to securing Mumbai? He annihilated the spectre of mafia gang-wars, reined in hooligans and controlled terror activities... He contributed significantly to the investigations of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks case, and now a mountain is being made out of a molehill of his meeting with Lalit Modi in London," the edit decried.
It said the entire Bharatiya Janata Party stood firmly behind External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over favouring Lalit Modi, then why a courageous officer like Maria should not be judged by the same yardstick.
In Maria's case, the party pointed out he had already submitted an explanation on his meeting with Modi in London, and asked: "What more can an officer be expected to do?"
Urging the central government and the BJP to clarify its stance on the issue, the Sena warned that "the state would have to suffer the consequences" if politicians are forgiven and upright officials are being hanged without proper enquiry.