Picnic Permission Row: Chief Minister, Home Minister in a spot over Wadhawans

Updated: Apr 11, 2020, 12:21 IST | Sanjeev Shivadekar | Mumbai

Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis dares Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh to expose the real culprits behind this, also seeks the latter's resignation

Kapil and Dheeraj Wadhawan promoters of PMC Bank scam-hit DHFL
Kapil and Dheeraj Wadhawan promoters of PMC Bank scam-hit DHFL

The Home Department's act of issuing passes to DHFL promoters, brothers Kapil and Dheeraj Wadhawan and their families to travel in the lockdown period, has put Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Home Minister Anil Deshmukh in the dock.

Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has dared "Thackeray Sarkar," and Deshmukkh to exhibit courage to bring the real culprits in the case to fore. The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) attack on the MVA government comes despite IPS officer Amitabh Gupta (special, principal secretary home) being sent on compulsory leave for issuing the passes to Wadhawan family members to travel from Khandala to Mahabaleshwar.

'Who's behind this?'

"The action of IPS officer issuing pass is unacceptable and he should be punished for the same. But who are the real people behind the action? This needs to be investigated. Will the MVA government led by Uddhav Thackeray exhibit courage to expose those influential people?" Fadnavis said.

The state home department on April 8 issued the passes to the Wadhawans. The BJP is leaving no stone unturned after the matter was uncovered, to embarrass the Thackeray-led tri-party MVA government.

Inquiry against officer

Aware that the issue would spark a fresh controversy, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh immediately ordered a probe in the case and sent Gupta on compulsory leave. "I have discussed the issue with the chief minister. An inquiry has been initiated against the IPS officer who issued the letter. The officer has been sent on compulsory leave with immediate effect and the order will remain in place till the inquiry is completed," the home minister mentioned in a tweet.

Devendra Fadnavis

However, BJP is not convinced with the action. BJP leader Kirit Somaiya has given an application to Mulund police urging them to register a case against the IPS officer. "The Wadhawan family has a criminal background. Despite this, how can an IPS officer who is posted in the Home Department issue a pass to them, that too with remarks that they are 'family friends'? This is strange and a serious issue. Also Gupta should have informed the whereabouts of the Wadhawan family to central agencies. But, instead, the IPS officer seems to have helped the Wadhawans to flee to Mahabaleshwar," the former Mumbai BJP chief told mid-day (detailed interview below). The Wadhawans have been detained and quarantined in Panchgani.

'CM must answer'

Fadnavis has also slammed the MVA government for giving VIP treatment to the Wadhawans. "Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and Deshmukh need to come clean on how come the government allowed the controversial members of a Mumbai-based business family to travel to a hill station in this situation. We want answers from the CM and home minister on the VIP treatment to a family whose members have been booked and investigated by central agencies in an alleged money laundering case," Fadnavis, the leader of opposition, in the state legislative assembly said.

Gupta did not respond to calls or messages from this paper.

BJP demands home minister's resignation

Hitting back at senior NCP leader Anil Deshmukh (home minister) for demanding the resignation of union home minister Amit Shah as the Delhi police gave permission for the congregation of Tablighi Markaz in the national capital, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said Deshmukh should resign on similar lines. "Deshmukh claims that Shah is responsible for crowd gathering and spreading COVID-19 to other states. Now how is it fair to allow a particular family to travel from one district to another, that too at time when movement of citizens are restricted to curb a pandemic? The travel could even pose a health hazard to others. Going by this logic should we not ask for home minister Anil Deshmukh's resignation too?" Fadnavis said.

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