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Pawar says charges against Munde ‘serious’, backs Malik

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Mumbai, Jan 14 (IANS) NCP President Sharad Pawar on Thursday termed allegations against Minister Dhananjay Munde as “serious”, but gave a clean chit to Minister Nawab Malik by saying there are “no personal charges against him”.

Pawar’s reactions to the media came after the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) was mired in controversy as Munde was accused of rape by a woman and Malik’s son-in-law arrested in a drugs case by Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

“Munde came and presented his version of the incident. The charges appear to be of a serious nature. I will apprise the party’s senior leaders about it. A decision will soon be taken in the matter,” Pawar said without revealing his cards.

“There are no personal charges against Malik. He is a senior leader with a clean image. We are confident that the central agency will do proper investigation in the matter. We will wait for its report before taking further steps,” the former Union Minister added.

Emerging from a meeting with senior leaders, NCP state President Jayant Patil said that the woman had allegedly threatened and blackmailed Munde, who has complained to the Mumbai Police and also the Bombay High Court.

“Though the allegations are of a serious nature, the facts of the case also need to be considered. He has informed the party about it a year ago… the police will do its job. There was no discussion on Munde’s resignation,” Patil said.

On his part, Munde said that he would abide by any decision by the party and its President (Pawar).

Shortly after his comments, Pawar went into a huddle with top NCP leaders like Praful Patel and state President Jayant Patil and others to discuss the situation that has embarrassed the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi government.

The NCP supremo’s comments came barely hours after Patil categorically declared that the party would “keep off” the ‘family matters’ of Munde even as speculation was rife that the Minister would either quit or be asked to resign from the state Cabinet.

In guarded comments, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut it was not proper to interfere or politicise the personal matters of any leaders, though the Congress has not voiced any stand.

Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s leaders like Pravin Darekar, Kirit Somaiya, Atul Bhatkalkar and others clamoured for Munde’s scalp “in the interest of justice to the complainant”.

It is not the first political crisis confronting the 14-month-old MVA government headed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, that has given anxious moments to the Sena-NCP-Congress combine.

In mid-2020, the BJP had levelled allegations against CM’s son and Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray following the deaths of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput and his manager Disha Salian, but the matter quietly died down later.




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