The NCP has decided to “temporarily” give charge of portfolios held by jailed Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik to his cabinet colleagues from the party, but the ruling coalition partner will not seek his resignation, Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil said on Thursday.
Mr Patil, who is also the NCP’s Maharashtra unit president, said the party’s decision will be conveyed to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray who, he added, will take the final call in this regard.
Interacting with media persons here after attending a meeting called by NCP president Sharad Pawar to discuss the issue, Mr Patil maintained the party will not take Malik’s resignation as the latter “was arrested in a wrong manner”.
The meeting took place at Sharad Pawar’s residence. It was attended by Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, ministers Chhagan Bhujbal and Dilip Walse Patil and party’s senior leaders Praful Patel and Sunil Tatkare, besides Mr Patil. Mr Malik, a senior NCP leader, is a cabinet minister who holds minority affairs and skill development portfolios in the Shiv Sena-led MVA government. The 62-year-old NCP leader, arrested in late February by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with an alleged money laundering case, is currently in jail under judicial custody.
Mr Malik, who heads the NCP’s Mumbai unit, is also the guardian minister for Parbhani and Gondia districts.
“His bail plea was rejected once again (recently). Hence, the charge of his responsibilities (portfolios) will be given to others in the next two to four days. We have decided to make this alternate temporary arrangement until he is available again,” Mr Patil said.
He said the details as to who will get charge of Mr Malik’s portfolios will be declared after the same is informed to the chief minister first.
According to sources, the NCP may give the charge of minority affairs portfolio to Housing Development Minister Jitendra Awhad. The charge of the skill development department may go to Rural Development Minister Hasan Mushrif, they added.
Mr Patil said the charge of Mr Malik’s guardian ministerships of Parbhani and Gondia will be given to Social Justice Minister Dhananjay Munde and Minister of State for Urban Development Prajakt Tanpure, respectively. A formal request in this regard will be made to the chief minister, who will take a final call, the NCP minister added.
Mr Patil further said Mr Malik will continue to remain the party’s Mumbai unit chief.
However, the party has decided to appoint two working presidents, Narendra Rane and Rakhi Jadhav, in the Mumbai unit in view of the forthcoming civic polls in Mumbai, he added.
On BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis’s remark in Nagpur that the BJP will win single-handedly in the 2024 Maharashtra Assembly polls, Mr Patil quipped, “I thank him on behalf of the MVA for saying that the alliance will be in power till 2024.” He asserted that Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) MLAs will “not break away” and added that the alliance government is “stable and there is no threat to it.” The NCP and the Congress are constituents of the Shiv Sena-led MVA which came to power in November 2019.
Mr Fadnavis, a former CM, recently created a flutter when he accused the MVA of hatching a conspiracy to target BJP leaders and submitted a pen drive “as proof” to the Deputy Assembly Speaker.
Asked about the claim made by the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Mr Patil said authenticity of the content in the pen drive needs to be verified.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)