Malik has been in jail since his arrest last year in a money-laundering case linked to the activities of Dawood Ibrahim and his aides
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Thursday called jailed Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and former minister Nawab Malik "anti-national" and refused to withdraw his remark made earlier against the Opposition.
He also said that if calling an anti-national person an anti-national is a crime, then he would do it 50 times.
Malik has been in jail since his arrest last year in a money-laundering case linked to the activities of Dawood Ibrahim and his aides.
Shinde was speaking in the state Legislative Council a day after Leader of Opposition Ambadas Danve submitted a breach of privilege notice against him for allegedly referring to Opposition legislators as "anti-national".
On Sunday, on the eve of the Budget session of the state legislature, the opposition had boycotted the customary tea party hosted by the chief minister. Later, referring to the opposition's boycott, Shinde said it saved him from having tea with "anti-nationals". He had said it was good that the opposition did not turn up for the tea party as some of them have ties with terrorist Dawood Ibrahim.
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Irked by his remark, the opposition submitted a breach of privilege notice against Shinde to the office of Council deputy chairperson Neelam Gorhe.
Speaking on the issue, Shinde said in the Upper House, "The information received indicates that NCP leader and former cabinet minister Nawab Malik had illegally purchased land which was allegedly linked to Dawood Ibrahim, the main accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts. Dawood not only killed people here but also supported terrorism against our country. How can anyone support people who are associated with him?"
"Malik is indeed an anti-national and I will not withdraw my comments," he said.
Shinde said, "If I have committed a crime of calling an anti-national person an anti-national, then I will repeat it 50 times. I never called Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Ajit Pawar or Leader of Opposition in the Council Ambadas Danve as anti-nationals. However, they called our government anti-Maharashtra. How can we even tolerate it?"