MUMBAI: The Shiv Sena has stung its ally BJP in the Lalit Modi controversy, questioning why the party hasn’t given Mumbai police chief Rakesh Maria the same consideration as its senior leaders Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje.
“The Centre and the BJP have steadfastly backed Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje despite opposition uproar… why not the same justice for a brave officer like Rakesh Maria?” the Sena has questioned in a sharp editorial in its mouthpiece Saamna, criticizing what it calls a “condemnable attempt to put the dynamic Police Commissioner in the dock.”
The police commissioner met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis twice to defend his meeting in London last year with Lalit Modi, who is wanted in India to answer charges of corruption, tax evasion and money-laundering during his term as chair of the cash-rich Indian Premier League or IPL. The Chief Minister was reportedly considering transferring Mr Maria before he received the explanation on Tuesday.
“What Lalit Modi has done with IPL may be an issue of contention but Rakesh Maria can’t be expected to handcuff Modi and drag his back to Delhi or Mumbai. He doesn’t have jurisdiction,” the Sena editorial says.
“Being the king of IPL, he must have got clicked with many political leaders as well. Does this mean action will be taken against all those leaders?”
The editorial reinforces speculation that penalizing Mr Maria would have been tough for the Chief Minister since the BJP has defended Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who provided support for various appeals he made to UK officials about immigration and urgent travel documents at a time when his passport had been revoked by India.
“If the politicians are forgiven for every sin then for the same reason, if an official is made a scapegoat without proper inquiry, it adversely affects the state,” the Sena says.