Maha minister’s ‘mafia links’ rock Assembly; Fadnavis defends govt, slams Oppn

Nagpur, Dec 18 (IANS): Nationalist Congress Party (SP) MLC Eknath Khadse stirred the political pot by accusing ruling ally BJP minister Girish Mahajan of alleged mafia links, creating a ruckus inside the legislature and outside, here on Monday.

Flashing a photograph in the House, Khadse said that Mahajan had attended a wedding in Nashik in which relatives of fugitive mafia don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar were also present.

“What is the relationship of the minister with the don’s relatives and his henchman Salim Shaikh ‘Kutta’? How appropriate is it for the minister to be in the Cabinet? The government should investigate this matter urgently. Immediate action was taken in the case of (Shiv Sena-UBT) leader Sudhakar Badgujar,” said Khadse.

Rushing to defend his Cabinet colleague, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that Mahajan 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 have 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 had appointed an inquiry committee headed by the then DCP and his report also confirmed the same,” Fadnavis said.

He also said that Mahajan had attended the wedding as he was the (then) Guardian Minister for Nashik and all the allegations levelled against him of alleged mafia links were absolutely false.

Hitting out at the Opposition, Fadnavis said that such topics are being raised in the Assembly as (ex-CM) Uddhav Thackeray is present in the Legislative Council.

“I would say that those who are levelling such baseless allegations against a minister and tarnishing the image of the government should apologise,” said Fadnavis.

Later, Leader of Opposition (Council) Ambadas Danve said outside the House that the Opposition members were not allowed to speak on these and other issues.

School Education Minister Deepak Kesarkar said Mahajan had attended the wedding of the Sheher-e-Khatib’s nephew as a gesture of goodwill as the local Muslim community had cooperated well during the Nashik Kumbh Mela (2015).

The minister said that the allegations are being hurled at a minister to cover up the episode of mafiosi Salim ‘Kutta’ dancing with an Opposition party leader (Badgujar), and “this is a form of support” to the Shiv Sena (UBT) leader.

Kesarkar also said that people watch the live telecast of the legislature proceedings, so it should have been mentioned clearly that the (Mahajan) photo was an old one to prevent misunderstandings among the masses.



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Title: Maha minister’s ‘mafia links’ rock Assembly; Fadnavis defends govt, slams Oppn

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