The allegations by former Mumbai Police commissioner Parambir Singh against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh have set off a storm in state politics.
In an eight-page letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Parambir Singh alleged Deshmukh had called Mumbai Police API Sachin Vaze around mid-February to the minister’s official residence and told him to collect Rs 100 crore a month. Vaze was arrested by the NIA during its probe into discovery of an explosives-laden vehicle near the residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani. Parambir was transferred following the arrest and suspension of Vaze.
Deshmukh had tested positive for COVID-19 on February 5. Deshmukh was in Nagpur at that time.
On Tuesday, Deshmukh spoke about his time in COVID-19 care. Deshmukh was quoted by ANI as saying, "Over past few days, false reports are doing rounds in media. I was hospitalised from February 5-15 after testing COVID positive on February 5. Got discharged on February 15 and was [in] home quarantine for 10 days hence on February 15, I came to Mumbai via private plane."
"As per doctor's advice, I used to visit park late at night for Pranayama thereon. I attended few virtual meetings in Nagpur hospital and later during home quarantine. Few officers visited me at home for briefing prior to Budget Session in March," Deshmukh was quoted as saying by ANI.
Deshmukh added he had "stepped out of... home on February 28 for the first time for official work. I am sharing all this so that people are not misguided".
On Monday, Sharad Pawar, the chief of the NCP, of which Deshmukh is a member, had ruled out Deshmukh's resignation over the allegations raised by Parambir Singh. Pawar also referred to the fact Deshmukh was in hospital for COVID-19 treatment in the time frame mentioned by Parambir Singh in his letter.
""We got information that Deshmukh was hospitalised at that time in Nagpur. The allegation (by Singh) pertains to exactly the same period when he was in hospital. There is a hospital certificate," Pawar told reporters in Delhi.
"All (state) government records also say that for the entire three weeks, he (Deshmukh) was not in Bombay (Mumbai). He was in Nagpur, which is his home town. That’s why in such a situation, the question (of seeking resignation) does not arise," Pawar said.