NCP, Congress slam BJP over Wadhawan picnic fracas

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Mumbai, April 10 (IANS) Even as the Central Bureau of Investigation entered the picture, the ruling Nationalist Congress Party-Congress slammed the Opposition BJP for wrongly targeting the Maha Vikas Aghadi government over the scam-tainted Wadhawan brothers’ sojourn in Mahabaleshwar hill station which ended in a quarantine facility, here on Friday.

Besides the CBI, the Enforcement Directorate also stepped into the scene by seizing the five vehicles in which the Wadhawans and others travelled yesterday from Khandala to Mahabaleshwar, as a huge political controversy erupted in the state.
Soon after the BJP state vice-president Kirit Somaiya raised the issue late on Thursday night, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis demanded a reply on the matter from Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Demands also came for suspension of the concerned IPS officer, Home Department Principal Secretary (Special) Amitabh Gupta who allegedly granted permission to the 23-strong group of Wadhawans and others travelling in a private convoy of five vehicles from Khandala in Pune to Mahabaleshwar in Satara.
Moving swiftly, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh early today sent Gupta on ‘compulsory leave’ for the indiscretion and followed it up by ordering a time-bound probe by a senior officer, to be completed within 2 weeks.
Attacking the BJP, Congress state spokesperson Sachin Sawant said that Wadhawans’ group companies like DHFL, HDIL, RKW have all funded the BJP.
“Wadhawans’ company Privilege Hi-tech is developing Vijaydurga Port in which BJP MP R. Chandrashekhar, a close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is a partner. Hence the false pretence of Kirit Somaiya won’t work,” Sawant said.
Nationalist Congress Party National spokesperson and Minority Affairs Minister and Deshmukh pointed out that all IAS and IPS officers come under the jurisdiction of the PMO.
“Since your party (BJP) is in power at the Centre, you should demand his (Gupta) suspension from the PMO,” both ministers advised, pushing the state BJP into an embarrassing corner.
Dropping dark hints, Sawant said that Gupta was appointed by the Fadnavis government which kept supporting the Wadhawans who are now lodged in a government quarantine facility in Panchgani hillstation.
“It cannot be ruled out that someone higher up from the BJP may have influenced help for them (Wadhawans). The MVA government has taken immediate action against Gupta. The Modi government must take action and come clean,” demanded Sawant.
The Wadhawans’ detention in Mahabaleshwar proved a boon for the CBI which was on their trail for a month when they absconded after the arrest of Yes Bank founder Rana Kapoor on March 8, and also Enforcement Directorate (ED) which wants them for its probe.
“From the developments, it seems that the Wadhawans were in touch with certain officials like Gupta who were holed up in Khandala. Whether the CBI was deliberately kept in the dark of their whereabouts also needs to be probed,” said a Shiv Sena leader, requesting anonymity.
The ED today seized the five vehicles in which the Wadhawans and others travelled from Khandala to Mahabaleshwar while the CBI has directed the Satara Police chief not to release the wanted Wadhawans without its prior permission.
The CBI said that Kapil Wadhawan and Dheeraj Wadhawan are absconding and it had searched their premises in Mumbai, and later secured non-bailable warrants of arrest against them.