Nagpur, Dec 8 (IANS): Rattled by the political row witnessed a day earlier, the ruling ally Nationalist Congress Party (AP) of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Friday virtually ‘disowned’ its tainted former minister Nawab Malik here.
Malik, who was jailed for 18 months, and released on a medical bail, reached Nagpur to attend the Winter Session of Maharashtra Legislature on Thursday.
He was seen occupying the treasury benches, sparking outrage among the ruling allies Shiv Sena of CM Eknath Shinde and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis.
An irked Fadnavis Thursday evening shot off a stinker to Ajit Pawar raising strong objections to Malik ‘joining’ the ruling side, but for the second day Friday, he (Malik) raised eyebrows after he was seen sitting in a back row of the treasury benches.
“MLA Nawab Malik has been our senior colleague for many years… He had nothing to do with the events (NCP split) that took place in the intervening period (when he was in jail). We have not had any political discussions with him,” said state NCP (AP) President Sunil Tatkare.
Referring to several of his party leaders meeting and greeting Malik, Tatkare claimed that after he was granted bail on medical grounds, “we met as old colleagues to enquire about his health”, and after he came to the Assembly, it was only natural that he interacts and meets with old acquaintances.
As the issue boiled and continued to embarrass the ruling MahaYuti government, it is learnt that NCP (AP) Working President Praful Patel is likely to meet and discuss it with Fadnavis later in the day.
According to political sources, CM Shinde has taken an equally grim view of Malik throwing his weight behind the Ajit Pawar faction and sitting on a back row of the treasury benches, leading to an uproar from the Opposition Congress-Shiv Sena (UBT) and NCP (SP).
Several ruling Shiv Sena and BJP legislators have also expressed concerns on the tainted Malik ostensibly joining the ruling bloc, and are worried over its long-term political repercussions, especially since both Shinde and Fadnavis had both strongly attacked the former minister (Malik) in the past.