BJP objects to Nawab Malik 'joining' Ajit Pawar-led NCP faction
Nagpur, Dec 7 : Exposing a deep schism in the ruling MahaYuti alliance, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday raised strong reservations to former Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik "joining" the breakaway Nationalist Congress Party faction led by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.
In what is described as an "unprecedented" move by political circles, BJP's Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis shot off a letter to his counterpart Ajit Pawar expressing reservations over Malik's entry to the ruling MayaYuti alliance of Shiv Sena-BJP-NCP-AP.
Fadnavis said that considering the kind of allegations of "treason" that Malik is facing, it "would not be proper" to include him in the MahaYuti alliance.
However, he said that as a MLA, it is Malik's right to come to the legislature and he even participated in the proceedings on Thursday.
On his objections on the issue, Fadnavis made it clear right in the beginning that he harboured no personal enmity or grudges against Malik.
The BJP leader said that 'power comes and goes', but the country is bigger than power.
Fadnavis pointed out that Malik ' who spent 18 months in jail between February 2022-August 2023 - is presently released only on medical bail and till the charges against him are proved, he should be welcomed.
"However, given the kind of allegations he is facing, it would not be appropriate to make him a part of the MahaYuti, that is our clear opinion," he said.
However, he added that it was Ajit Pawar's complete prerogative to decide whom he should take in his party.
Justifying his opposition, Fadnavis urged that care should be taken to ensure Malik's entry does not cause problems in the MahaYuti alliance and all the allies must bear this in mind.
Taking a swipe at the former Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray without naming him, Fadnavis said that though Malik was arrested and jailed (for 18 months) under charges of 'treason' (desh-drohi), he was kept in the cabinet by the (then) CM, and the BJP could not endorse that decision.
Fadnavis signed off by expressing hope that Ajit Pawar would take note of the BJP's sentiments in this regard.
Earlier, in the Maharashtra Assembly, Fadnavis had attacked the MVA for retaining Malik as a minister though he was put behind bars for his "terror" links.
"After he was jailed for his links with terrorists, we had demanded Malik's resignation but the (then) Thackeray government did not act in the matter. First you reply to that, then ask us' You have no moral right to question us now," he said.
Returning to the legislature after an absence of nearly two years, Malik created a flutter in Nagpur when he first visited a senior NCP-AP leader's office and later went to the house, occupying a last row on the treasury benches. This triggered a ruckus both outside and inside the Assembly, with the MVA taking potshots at the BJP.
"Malik, whom the BJP and the CM had called a 'traitor' ' which I had condemned ' what's the BJP's opinion now? Where have the BJP leaders gone who keep saying 'Mian Mian' to show that they are Muslims? BJP has done the job of destroying the rich and ideal political traditions of Maharashtra. This politics of BJP is terrible," said Congress state General Secretary Sachin Sawant in Mumbai.
"Nawab Sir, you always taught me to fight against injustice and wrong. While debating on TV, you taught me to speak intelligently against my opponents. I will always follow your teachings and fight against the same opponents," said NCP-SP national spokesperson Clyde Crasto in a sarcastic note.
However, Ajit Pawar and his party leaders had not commented on these unexpected political twists till late this evening.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: email@example.com)