Mumbai: Investigation into nine cases related to the alleged Rs 70,000 crore Maharashtra irrigation scam was closed on Monday, two days after Ajit Pawar broke ties with his uncle Sharad Pawar to join hands with BJP and as Deputy Chief Minister took the oath.
On 25 November, a letter was officially released by the state’s Anti-Corruption Bureau, officially closing the investigation into these cases. The scam cases were first reported in 2014, soon after Devendra Fadnavis became CM in his first term, but was slowly moving forward since then.
As the Congress and Shiv Sena quickly alleged that it was a case of Ajit Pawar helping the BJP form the government, sources in the police department claimed that it was a “regular matter”.
He said that the cases were not against Ajit Pawar and were closed on the orders of the Bombay High Court, which ordered some action before 28 November.
Speaking to News18, ACB Director General Paramvir Singh claimed that the closure of the cases had nothing to do with political developments in the state and was recommended by his department three months ago. “Ajit Pawar had no role in these nine cases… The investigation is going on in other cases. We are investigating more than 3,000 irregularities in this scam,” he said.
However, the anxious timing of government action has raised questions as to why this haste was done as a date is written with a pen in the ACB letter.
Ajit Pawar served as deputy CM in the Congress-NCP government between November 2010 and September 2012 before resigning over allegations of an irrigation scandal.
As the state’s water resources minister, he was charged with approving 38 projects worth Rs 20,000 crore by modifying the rules in 2009 without the specific approval of the Governing Council of Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC).
Despite spending huge amounts of money on various projects, it was alleged that there was no significant increase in irrigated land in the state.
The BJP had repeatedly targeted Pawar’s clan over allegations of corruption as it claimed that Maharashtra’s irrigation potential had grown by only 0.1% in those years despite spending Rs 70,000 crore on such projects.
The Shiv Sena has alleged that the BJP used corruption cases filed against Ajit Pawar to persuade the NCP to split it and garner support.