Mantralaya sources told mid-day that the CM, whose problems with the top cop began with the latter’s clearance of the Shiv Sena’s nightlife proposal in February, is gearing up for stern action after the hooch tragedy and the revelation that Maria had met Lalit Modi; Fadnavis himself stuck to a cryptic ‘not as yet’ when asked about Maria’s ouster
When you are mired in controversy and your unhappy boss is asked whether you’ll be sacked, “not as yet” is probably the last thing you want to hear. Rakesh Maria, who is embroiled in the Lalit Modi scandal, found himself at the receiving end of exactly these words from Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis yesterday.
The CM had asked for a report on Maria’s meeting with Lalit Modi, which the police commissioner submitted to the additional chief secretary yesterday. File pic
Highly placed sources in Mantralaya have told mid-day that the sword of Damocles is hanging over the head of the Mumbai Commissioner of Police (CP), who may be on his way out barely a year and a half after assuming the post in February 2014.
Long time coming?
According to Mantralaya officials, Fadnavis’ problems with Maria began in February this year when the latter cleared a Shiv Sena-sponsored proposal for allowing nightlife in select places in Mumbai without consulting him first.
Tension had been building up since then, and the fact that the revelation about Maria having met Lalit Modi came on Saturday, just two days after the Malwani hooch tragedy, seems to have been the last nail in the proverbial coffin.
“Maria has been under the CM’s scrutiny, especially after the CP cleared the Shiv Sena’s nightlife proposal. Fadnavis wanted Maria to discuss the proposal with him before making it public. There have been several other issues where the CP did not meet the CM’s expectations and the tension between the two has been building over a period of time.
The Modi issue and the hooch tragedy that killed over 100 people have upset the CM even more,” said a senior officer who works closely with Fadnavis.
After Maria told the media about his encounter with Modi in London on Saturday, Fadnavis sought a report from him within a day on Sunday. Sources said Maria was busy preparing the report in consultation with lawyers, and submitted it to the additional chief secretary late last evening.
Sources said the CP had met the CM earlier in the evening in connection with the hooch tragedy, but this matter was not discussed. When mid-day asked Fadnavis yesterday whether Maria would be displaced anytime soon, the CM said, “Not as yet” and refused to elaborate.
Sources further said that the CM may not wait to take action against Maria till the reshuffle of senior IPS officers, which will happen in view of Maharashtra DGP Sanjeev Dayal’s retirement in September this year. “Maria may be given an insignificant posting before getting the rank of Director General of Police.
Even if he is promoted as a DGP, he will not be made the state police chief but may be given a side posting,” said a Mantralaya official. As of now, Maria holds the rank of Additional DGP.
Another official felt that Maria may get some leeway because of the politicisation of the Modi issue by opposition leaders like ex-CM Prithviraj Chavan, who has said that he was not aware of Maria’s meeting with the former IPL commissioner.
Former Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Amitabh Rajan has also said that Maria had not told him about the said meeting. Maria has claimed that he had briefed the then home minister R R Patil, but his claims cannot be verified as Patil passed away earlier this year.
After a photo of Maria meeting Lalit Modi who is facing a probe by the Enforcement Directorate in the alleged forex violation cases in London was flashed by a news channel on Saturday, Maria issued a statement that an advocate representing Modi had told him in London that the former cricket administrator wanted to meet him regarding a grave threat to his life and his family.
“In the month of July 2014, I officially attended a conference in London. At the conference, I was approached by an advocate representing Lalit Modi who stated that Lalit Modi wanted to meet me regarding a grave threat to his life and that of his family in London,” Maria said in the statement.
“It may be recollected that as Joint Commissioner of Police, Crime, Mumbai, in year 2009-10, the Crime Branch under me had foiled an attempt on his (Modi’s) life by the Mumbai underworld,” he said in the statement, adding, “I also maintained the requisite confidential record of the same.
Besides, the Anti-Extortion Cell of the Mumbai Police was also given in writing the details of what had transpired in the meeting for discreet inquiry at their end,” he added.