The Shiv Sena has given a green signal to the decision of the Union Government to transfer the Bhima Koregaon case to the National Investigative Agency (NIA) on Wednesday, thereby drawing the ire of its ally, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), in the Maha Vikas Aghadi.
It is notable here that since coming to power, the NCP had been batting for dropping cases against the accused persons in the Bhima Koregaon violence case. It was also reported that CM Uddhav had assured NCP leaders that the cases will be dropped.
However, the central government had handed over the Bhima Koregaon violence cases to the NIA, taking it beyond the power of state law enforcement.
On January 25, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had issued a notification regarding the transfer of the Bhima Koregaon case. It was done after the newly formed coalition government in Maharashtra was considering forming an SIT and possibly dropping the charges against left-wing intellectuals implicated in the case.
State Home Minister and member of the NCP, Anil Deshmukh, hit out at the Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray over the use of his ‘discretionary powers’. He said, “The CM has powers. He overruled my objection and granted consent to the NIA to take over the probe.”
Deshmukh reiterated that the NCP was of the view that the Centre should have consulted the State government before transferring the Bhima Koregaon case to the NIA. He added that the Home Ministry is in touch with the State advocate general, Ashutosh Kumbhakoni.
Reports, however, suggested that Uddhav Thackeray gave a nod to the Centre’s decision after seeking a legal opinion from Kumbhakoni who informed the Chief Minister that the Union Government was legally empowered to do so. Reportedly, Anil Deshmukh had discussed the issue with NCP supremo, Sharad Pawar, and Uddhav before briefing the media.
After discussing with the state advocate general, CM Thackeray had ordered that state government will no longer oppose the Centre in court, and to facilitate that, the home department, through an order issued on Wednesday, had directed the Maharashtra DGP to convey the decision to the sessions court in Pune during a hearing scheduled for Friday.
In an interview with Saamana, Uddhav Thackeray stated, “Nobody denies the Centre’s right in this investigation. But, while exercising its right, the Centre should have taken the state into confidence or should have told us what was wrong in the investigation.”
This is not the first time that the allies in the Maha Vikas Aghadi had taken contradictory stances publicly. Earlier, Shiv Sena had snubbed Congress ahead of the Delhi elections and instead backed its arch-rival, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The saffron party had also been at loggerheads with the Congress over comments made by the latter on Veer Savarkar. While both NCP and Congress had been opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act, Sena had been a supporter of the Act.