NCP leader Nawab Malik, out on bail, hobnobs with Ajit Pawar faction at Maharashtra Assembly


NCP leader Nawab Malik.

NCP leader Nawab Malik.
| Photo Credit: VIVEK BENDRE

Former Maharashtra Minister and senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Nawab Malik, out on bail in an alleged money laundering case, made his first appearance in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly on December 7 amid speculation that he had aligned himself with the ruling Ajit Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) faction.

Mr. Malik’s presence at the Vidhan Bhavan premises was the highlight of the first day of the Winter Session of the Maharashtra Legislature in Nagpur on December 7.

The 64-year-old NCP leader, who was incarcerated between March 2022 and August 2023, was extended a warm welcome by Anil Patil, the chief whip of the Ajit Pawar-led NCP, in whose chambers Mr. Malik sat awhile before participating in the Assembly proceedings.

Mr. Malik refrained from speaking to reporters on grounds that he had court injunctions not to do so.

He was seated in the back row benches, beside members of the Ajit Pawar-led faction, when the proceedings started.

Mr. Malik’s appearance led to a verbal duel in the Maharashtra Legislative Council between Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader Ambadas Danve and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis.

Accusing the ruling Eknath Shinde-led ‘Mahayuti’ government of double standards, Mr. Danve said, “Today, a Legislative Assembly member [Mr. Malik] went and sat in your ranks. But in the past, the CM [Mr. Shinde] and the Deputy CM [Mr. Fadnavis] had accused our [Maha Vikas Aghadi] government of consorting with a ‘traitor’ [the BJP’s accusations against Mr. Malik]. You had attacked him of having financial dealings with gangster Dawood Ibrahim. We would want to know your government’s stance now?”

Mr. Fadnavis riposted by saying that it had been Uddhav Thackeray’s MVA that had taken a decision not to remove Mr. Malik from the cabinet when he had been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on charges of alleged money laundering.

“Do not worry about us… You [the MVA] will first have to answer that despite him [Mr. Malik] being in jail, why did you not remove Nawab Malik from the MVA government,” Mr. Fadnavis said.

With the Ajit Pawar group aligning with the BJP, the Opposition MVA is likely to pounce on the ruling parties if Mr. Malik formally gives his allegiance to Ajit Pawar’s rebel faction.

Since his release in August, both the Sharad Pawar and Ajit Pawar-led NCP factions have been assiduously wooing Mr. Malik.

In 2021, it was Mr. Fadnavis who had accused Mr. Malik of having apparently struck a property deal with 1993 Mumbai bomb blast convict Sardar Shahwali Khan and Mohd. Salim Ishaq Patel, said to be the ‘frontman’ of Haseena Parkar, Dawood Ibrahim’s sister.

A prime property of 2.80 acres at LBS Marg in Kurla had been brought by Solidus Investment Private Limited for a meagre ₹30 lakh. The signatory of the deal transacted was Faraz Malik, who is Nawab Malik’s son, Mr. Fadnavis had alleged.

At the time of his arrest in March 2022, the then MVA led by Uddhav Thackeray had thrown its weight behind Mr. Malik, with the MVA leadership categorically ruling out the question of Mr. Malik’s resignation until his guilt was proven.

The undivided NCP had rallied behind Mr. Malik, stating that the MVA government would not give the BJP the satisfaction of seeing its Ministers resign after the latter dug up obscure cases against them.

Even West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee had called up Sharad Pawar to express her solidarity following Mr. Malik’s arrest.


Mohd Aman

Editor in Chief Approved by Indian Government

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