Staff Reporter

Mumbai: At sea over a squabble between Minister of State, Home, Ramesh Bagwe, and Pune Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh, the Maharashtra government is finally set to intervene in the matter.

Over the past few days now, the local press and the government have been gripped by the public spat between the Minister and the top officer.

Things have come to such a pass that Mr. Bagwe is planning to file a defamation suit after conferring with his Congress leadership. “I will discuss the matter with Manikrao Thakre [Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president] on Monday. This is a conspiracy to malign the party. False allegations have been made; false cases have been registered [against me]. This has to be stopped somewhere. The court needs to know,” Mr. Bagwe told The Hindu on the phone on Saturday.

The issue broke out recently when Pune authorities stalled the renewal of Mr. Bagwe's passport in view of 19 alleged cases registered against him, a move the Minister construed as deliberate.

The Congress leadership now has reportedly asked Chief Minister Ashok Chavan to look into the veracity of the offences.

Earlier, Mr. Bagwe's statement on the floor of the Assembly last month that Dr. Singh would be transferred had everyone surprised, including his superior State Home Minister R.R. Patil. Police transfers are due by the end of this month.

Meanwhile, the Home department itself is watching the controversy with dismay with a top departmental official terming it “ridiculous.”

Lane cordoned off

It has been learnt that the lane leading to Dr. Singh's house in Pune has been cordoned off under the pretext of security arrangements so that no vehicle can enter.

Also, the Commissioner and the MoS, the latter being higher in rank in the administrative hierarchy, are not on talking terms.

The Pune Cantonment area is Mr. Bagwe's constituency from where he was elected in last year's State Assembly elections.

According to Mr. Bagwe, the root of the animosity lies in the sudden shutting down of police chowkies in Pune.