BJP and opposition trade barbs in Maharashtra council over Dawood 'relative' link claim

Khadse, who belongs to the Sharad Pawar camp of NCP, showed photos of a cabinet minister attending a wedding and alleged that the family is related to Dawood Ibrahim, the prime accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts case.
Last Updated : 18 December 2023, 14:23 IST

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Nagpur: The opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi cornered the Eknath Shinde-led Maha Yuti government after veteran NCP leader Eknath Khadse accused BJP minister and trouble-shooter Girish Mahajan of having links with the mafia.

Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who also holds the Home portfolio, however, has rejected the charges.

Mahajan, the Rural Development Minister, too has rejected the allegations.

Khadse, a veteran politician and former minister, who is from the Sharad Pawar-led NCP group, alleged about Mahajan’s mafia links in the Maharashtra Legislative Council.

Incidentally, both Khadse, a former BJP leader and Mahajan, who is considered close to Fadnavis, hail from the Jalgaon district and are veterans of North Maharashtra politics.

The development comes after last week’s decision of the government to appoint an SIT to probe Shiv Sena (UBT) Nashik unit head Sudhakar Badgujar's association with gangster and Dawood Ibrahim's sharpshooter Salim Mira Shaikh alias Salim Kutta, who is a convict and serving life sentence in connection with the 12 March, 1993 serial blasts case.

Khadse said that Mahajan had attended a wedding in Nashik in which relatives of Dawood Ibrahim were also present.

“If the state government can set up a SIT to probe the alleged links between Badgujar and Salim Kuttathen why not an inquiry be constituted against the minister?,” Khadse asked.

Leader of the Opposition in Council Ambadas Danve demanded that Mahajan be sacked from the Cabinet.

Fadnavis said that such topics are being raised as former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is present in the Council.

Fadnavis said that Mahajan, who was then Nashik’s guardian minister, and many other party leaders and officials had attended the wedding of the nephew of a Muslim cleric, the Sheher-e-Khatib, in Nashik around six years ago.

“We've confirmed that the Sheher-e-Khatib or the groom’s family had no links with Dawood, and even the bride’s side had no such connections. However, after the allegations were levelled, I (as then Chief Minister and Home Minister) had appointed an inquiry committee headed by an officer of the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police and his report also confirmed the same,” Fadnavis said.

"Khadse is a frustrated man as he suffered political and financial setbacks,” said Mahajan.

Khadse, who belongs to the Sharad Pawar camp of NCP, showed photos of the cabinet minister attending a wedding and alleged that the family is related to Dawood Ibrahim, the prime accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts case.

Council chairperson Neelam Gorhe directed that the name of the minister be removed from the proceeding. She also rejected the opposition's demand for a discussion.

Fadnavis, also the Home Minister, said, "The concerned minister and many other political leaders and government officers had attended the wedding of a nephew of a renowned Muslim priest in Nashik city, known as Shaher-e-Khatib."

"An allegation was made that one of the daughters in the family of the in-laws of the bride's father has been married to one of the brothers of Dawood Ibrahim. There is no case against any one of them. In 2017-18, the investigation team has clearly stated that Shaher-e-Khatib has nothing to do with Dawood," he said.

Targeting Shiv Sena-UBT, he said, "Why such rigorous attempts were not made when Saleem (Kutta) was with (Sudhakar) Badgujar? I reject these allegations. There is no such connection (Dawood link). He (Khadse) should apologise to the House".

Badgujar, who heads the Nashik city unit of Shiv Sena-UBT, is facing an investigation after BJP MLA Nitesh Rane displayed a photo in the state assembly last week claiming Badgujar had danced with Dawood Ibrahim's aide Salim Kutta at a party.

Earlier in the day, Shiv Sena (Shinde) faction legislators raised slogans against Shiv Sena UBT, saying Salim Kutta is the new leader of UBT.

"Everybody knows who is the godfather of Sudhakar Badgujar in Mumbai. Badgujar finances Salim Kutta which is akin to promoting anti-nationals," state minister Dada Bhuse told reporters on the premises of the Vidhan Bhavan in Nagpur.

Meanwhile, Congress MLA Kailas Gorantyal expressed doubts about the identity of the person purportedly seen in the video with Badgujar.

"Saleem Kutta or Saleem Kurla was murdered a long time ago in Mumbai in 1998. His three wives had approached a TADA court for the release of the property seized by the police earlier. The court had upheld their appeal. We don't know who this person is (dancing in the video)," he told reporters.

A case on charges of cheating and corruption has been registered against Badgujar in Nashik by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

Fadnavis on Friday announced a probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the dance party where Salim Kutta and Badgujar were allegedly present together.

The Anti-Corruption Bureau filed a police complaint against Badgujar accusing him of submitting fake documents of retirement from a company, in which he was a director, in 2006.

"Don't take unjust action. If the documents (about his retirement from the company) provided by me are proven fake, I will commit suicide, will hang myself in the ACB commissioner's office," the Sena (UBT) leader said.

He said the ACB issued a notice to him suddenly at 7 pm on Sunday and his houses were raided.

Published 18 December 2023, 14:23 IST

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