BJP top brass resolves to stand firm behind Wankhede

MUMBAI: The Aryan Khan drug case is apparently turning out to be a war of attrition between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led centre and the Shiv Sena ledMaha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) state government as BJP leaders in the state have resolved to stand firm behind NCB Mumbai Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede who is being targeted by state minister and National Congress Party (NCP) Nawab Malik almost every day.

According to most senior BJP functionaries, a meeting of party leaders was held at Worli in South Mumbai on Thursday in which a central BJP leader, who arrived in Mumbai, two days back also participated and expressed the central leaders' opinion. The agenda of the meeting was to finalise the further strategy regarding Wankhede and how to defend him tactically. 

Apparently, the top BJP leadership has instructed the leaders in the state to extend as much support as possible to Wankhede as it appears that the NCP is using the Khan drug case to malign a central agency offer in order to divert attention from the  the central agencies like ED and IT which continue to train their guns on MVA leaders. 

"The party is of the firm opinion that Wankhede is being systematically targetted by NCP with the full knowledge of party supremo Sharad Pawar in a bid to neutralise the impact of raids by central agencies on state ministers," the senior leader said.  

Due to the ongoing smear campaign against Wankhede, the probe in drug seizure from the cruise ship Cordelia on October 02, has come to a standstill as the attention is diverted and the focus has shifted to the probing officer rather than those who have been accused in the case. 

No fresh arrests were made in the last few days after the first few detentions in which drug peddlers have been arrested. Even the summons to actress Ananya Pande to appear at the agency for interrogation on Monday, October 25, was reportedly withdrawn. She was interrogated twice earlier.

Former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya today said, the controversy whether Wankhede is a Dalit or a Muslim has been raised by Sharad Pawar and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. "Both should be ashamed of what they are doing to discredit the honest officer. This is being done to put a lid on the Income Tax raids on Ajit Pawar's sugar factories." 

Notably today Wankhede's father Dnyandev Wankhede, wife actor Kranti Redkar, and sister Advocate Yasmeen Wankhede met Somaiya on which he said that they were disturbed by the slanderous and dirty propaganda by the minister against their family Members. "I strongly condemn such efforts by Nawab Malik," Somaiya twetted. 

Somaiya said that NCP Chief Sharad Pawar says that only some chillar (fractional money) was seized by Income Tax authorities from Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. But the fact is that unaccounted Rs 180 crore were seized from a builder. Out of this amount of Rs 100 crore was passed on to Ajit Pawar. Ajit Pawar's name was figured in the charge sheet in the irrigation scam. However, the MVA government has not been taking any action in the matter.

After raids by ED/IT in Latur, now the raids will also be conducted in Nanded to bring down the empire of Congress leader Ashok Chavan, who has allegedly grabbed many sugar factories, Somaiya said. We will continue to unearth many more skeletons in the cupboard till the end of this year, Somaiya said.

In the meanwhile, the leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Devendra Fadnavis said that to raise a controversy over the caste and faith of any government officer is extremely low-level politics. 

He added that to threaten Wankhede to strip him of his job by the minister is still worst because the ministerial post is a constitutional post. Also, to pressurise the witnesses to turn hostile is destructive since no one can subvert the judicial process, Fadnavis said.

"One can understand the agony of the NCP Minister but to threaten any officer while performing his duty is bad. Besides, to use the government machinery for this is absolutely unethical, Fadnavis added.

Considering that the BJP is prepared to throw its weight behind Wankhede, it appears that the mudslinging by Malik and the counter action-reaction will be a thing to watch for. 


  • Unmesh Gujarathi
    Unmesh Gujarathi

    Unmesh our Editor-at-large is one of the most prolific editors with a career that spans over two decades in leading media houses like The Asian Age, The Free Press Journal, Lokmat etc. Currently, he is the Editor-in-Chief of Sprouts, a daily broadsheet. Unmesh is particularly known for his exposé that have unearthed major scandals of corruption and scoops.

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