Demanding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi follow up on his allegations of corruption allegedly committed by senior leaders of Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) leader Prakash Ambedkar on Friday said the Prime Minister ought to either file a First Information Report (FIR) against these NCP leaders or apologise to Mr. Pawar and the NCP for making defamatory and politically-motivated statements.
Mr. Ambedkar, who is the grandson of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, said that if Mr. Modi failed to file criminal cases against the NCP leaders whom he accused of corruption, then the VBA, along with the Congress and Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena (UBT) would stage agitation against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) “politically-motivated blackmail.”
“On June 27, PM Modi, at a BJP booth workers’ meeting in Bhopal had made multiple allegations of corruption scams involving the NCP and Sharad Pawar to the tune of ₹70,000 crore. These allegations included scams in the irrigation, cooperative bank and mining sectors. A month has passed after the PM’s remarks, but there has been no investigation or filing of any FIRs,” Mr. Ambedkar told mediapersons in Pune.
He said that if the Prime Minister was making such allegations publicly, then it must be assumed that he would have concrete information and proof about them, which he may have authenticated with the agencies (Enforcement Directorate, Central Bureau of Investigation and the Income Tax) at his disposal.
“I am assuming that these agencies and the Attorney General’s office would have informed him about these so-called scams. Hence, we call upon the BJP and PM Modi to file an FIR against NCP leaders within 10 days,” Mr. Ambedkar said.
He said that if the BJP and the Prime Minister failed to follow up on these accusations, it would clearly mean Mr. Modi had calculatedly made a political statement designed to “finish-off” the NCP.
“Will the PM then apologise to the NCP and the country in the next 10 days if no cases are filed against the NCP leaders? Defaming the senior leadership of a party without concrete evidence for electoral gains is highly unethical. Either the PM Narendra Modi should prove the allegations or apologise to Mr. Sharad Pawar for trying to defame him,” Mr. Ambedkar said.
Warns of agitations
Warning of staging agitations if the Prime Minister did not tender an apology to Mr. Pawar, Mr. Ambedkar said he would appeal to Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray to participate in the agitations against the BJP’s “political blackmail and pressure”.
While Mr. Thackeray already has an alliance with Mr. Ambedkar, the latter is not yet part of the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition (of the Sena UBT, the Congress and the Sharad Pawar-led NCP faction) in Maharashtra.
One reason for the wariness on the part of the Congress and the NCP to induct the VBA into the MVA coalition is that Mr. Ambedkar’s party, which had allied with the Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, had played havoc by garnering Dalit-minority votes that traditionally went to the Congress and the NCP, causing the defeats of Congress candidates in a number of seats.
However, Mr. Ambedkar’s remarks suggest a rapprochement between the VBA and the Congress and Mr. Sharad Pawar’s NCP faction and that the latter parties could consider inducting the VBA within the MVA coalition.