The Maharashtra government sent Principal Secretary (Special) Amitabh Gupta, IPS, on compulsory leave following the controversy over allowing DHFL chairman Kapil Wadhawan and his 22 family members to travel from Khandala to Mahabaleshwar on April 8 despite the lockdown.
Mr. Wadhawan and his brother Dheeraj are DHFL promoters, and co-accused in a case of cheating and money laundering registered against Yes Bank co-founder Rana Kapoor. Late on Thursday night, both brothers, along with over 20 family members, were detained at Mahabaleshwar for violating prohibitory orders. State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Friday also announced an inquiry into the matter by Additional Chief Secretary Manoj Saunik and asked him to submit a report within 15 days.
Meanwhile, former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya led his party’s attack on the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government for negligence and demanded the resignation of Mr. Deshmukh. The party also linked the permission granted to the Wadhawans by Mr. Gupta to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar.
Leaders from the NCP were quick to attack Mr. Somaiya and reminded him that his ‘frivolous statements in the past’ had led to the party not giving him a ticket for the Lok Sabha polls in 2019.
“Kirit Somaiya has been talking a lot about the Wadhawan issue, we must all remember that Somaiya is known for his frivolous statements and was denied a candidature of his party for the same. One must not pay attention to his irresponsible, unsubstantiated talks,” said NCP’s chief spokesperson and Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Malik.
He said IPS and IAS officers come under the ambit of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). “If the Central government wishes to take action against Amitabh Gupta, they are free to do so. We will welcome the same,” he added.
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant alleged that the Wadhawans and the BJP have financial links. “RKW Developer Private Limited, Skill Realtors and Darshan Realtors are three companies created from Diwan Housing Finance Limited group owned by the Wadhawans. These companies paid ₹20 crore to BJP and the party has not given PAN details of two of these companies,” Mr. Sawant said in a statement issued on Friday.
He also alleged that BJP MP R. Chandrashekhar’s company is in partnership with Privilege Hightech, another venture of the Wadhawans, which is developing Vijaydurg port in Maharashtra. “The possibility of a BJP leader requesting for the letter from Gupta cannot be overruled as Gupta was appointed during the tenure of former CM Devendra Fadnavis,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Somaiya has written to Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba demanding disciplinary and criminal action against Mr. Gupta for “giving authenticity to Wadhwan brothers who are allegedly involved in various frauds including DHFL, Yes Bank, PMC bank and criminal proceedings are going on against them by CBI, ED and Mumbai police as they are out on bail.”
State Housing Minister Jitedra Awhad too attacked the BJP for indulging in petty politics. “Pouncing on Sharad Pawar immediately in this case shows that the BJP merely wants to play politics and nothing else. The State government has taken immediate action against the officer. It seems, BJP cannot survive in Maharashtra if it does not attack Mr. Pawar. I ask them to stop such petty politics,” he said.