Bhima-Koregaon case transfer: rift among Sena and NCP deepens

Using the veto power by the chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to hand over the Elgar Parishad case of Pune to National Investigation Agency has deepened the rift among the ruling allies, particularly the Shiv Sena and the “secular” partners, the NCP and the Congress.

The chief minister Thackeray has given a nod to the decision of the Narendra Modi Government to transfer the Bhima-Koregaon case to NIA on Wednesday, thereby drawing the ire of its ally, the NCP, in the Maha Vikas Aghadi. It was primarily the NCP which was batting for dropping cases against the accused persons in the Bhima Koregaon violence case. It was also reported that the chief minister Thackeray had assured the NCP leaders that the cases will be dropped. However, the central government had handed over the Bhima-Koregaon violence cases to the NIA, taking it beyond the power of state law enforcement The Maharashtra Home minister Anil Deshmukh, who belongs to NCP, even expressed his reservation on the issue. On January 25, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had issued a notification regarding the transfer of the Bhima-Koregaon case. It was done after the newly formed coalition government in Maharashtra was considering forming an SIT and possibly dropping the charges against the “urban naxalites,” who were implicated in the case.

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The Maharashtra Home Minister Deshmukh, hit out at the Sena and its chief Uddhav Thackeray over the use of his ‘discretionary powers’. He said, “The CM has powers. He overruled my objection and granted consent to the NIA to take over the probe.” He reiterated that the NCP was of the view that the Centre should have consulted the State government before transferring the Bhima-Koregaon case to the NIA. It was said that the chief minister Thackeray gave a nod to the Centre’s decision after seeking a legal opinion from the state’s advocate general, who informed the Chief Minister that the Union Government was legally empowered to do so.

After discussing with the state advocate general, Thackeray had ordered that state government will no longer oppose the Centre in court, and to facilitate that, the home department, through an order issued on Wednesday, had directed the Maharashtra DGP to convey the decision to the sessions court in Pune during a hearing scheduled for Friday.

This is not the first time that the allies in the Maha-Vikas-Aghadi had taken contradictory stances publicly. Earlier, the Sena had snubbed Congress ahead of the Delhi elections and instead backed its arch-rival, the AAP. The saffron party had also been at loggerheads with the Congress over comments made by the latter on Veer Savarkar. While both NCP and Congress had been opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act, Sena had been a supporter of the Act.

There are also other issues that confront the allies, particularly the Ram temple issue. Thackeray is also planning to go to Ayodhya soon in the wake of Supreme Court verdict. His visits in Ayodhya and the reactions of Congress and NCP in this connection would be very interesting for all during the period!