The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday stepped up pressure on the Maharashtra government to act against minister Nawab Malik, even as the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader moved Bombay high court seeking quashing of the case registered against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in an alleged money laundering case.
Malik was arrested on February 23 and is presently in the custody of the ED till March 3. The 62-year-old minority affairs minister was taken into custody after he was questioned for about five hours in a money-laundering probe linked to the activities of fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim and his aides.
The opposition BJP threatened to disrupt the upcoming budget session if Malik continued to remain a cabinet minister.
“Malik is arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act by the ED. But the Maharashtra government seems to have decided not to remove him from his post. The BJP will not allow the House to carry out its daily work (during budget session) if Malik remains a cabinet minister,” state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said.
The state budget session is scheduled to begin on March 3 and will go on till March 25.
Targeting chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, Patil said: “Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray stood strongly in the interest of the society and the nation during the communal riots and bomb blasts in 1992 and 1993, but his son, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, has been shielding a minister having links with accused 1992 blasts. This is nothing but a political compromise which will not be tolerated by us. We will continue with our ongoing agitation until Malik is sacked.”
Hitting back, Shiv Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande said the BJP had always invoked Dawood Ibrahim for political gains but could not nab him even after years in power (at the Centre).
“My question is why the BJP government could not nab Dawood if he is the enemy number one to the nation. Why did Prime Minister Narendra Modi pay a sudden visit to Pakistan to meet their Prime Minister Nawab Sharif in 2015? Why did (BJP leader) Devendra Fadnavis not initiate action in Malik’s land deals during his tenure as chief minister and the home minister for five years? BJP wants to make an event out of everything and by stalling the business of the legislature, they want to utilise the issue for their political gain, but it will come at the cost of people’s interest,” she said.
Meanwhile, the high court is scheduled to hear Malik’s petition against the ED case on Wednesday, news agency ANI reported. The minister, in his plea, alleged that his arrest was “illegal” and that he was targeted for being a “vocal critic of the misuse of central agencies”.