MUMBAI: The BJP on Wednesday demanded the resignation of Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik following his arrest by the ED, but Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut countered it saying that the NCP leader should not be asked to step down as he was held in a “cunning manner”.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Malik in a money laundering case linked to the activities of fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim, his aides and the Mumbai underworld.
The 62-year-old NCP leader was taken to the ED’s office in south Mumbai for questioning in the morning and was later arrested. Malik is the first serving cabinet minister to be arrested on money laundering charges.
Following his arrest, Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil demanded that the minister should be removed from the state cabinet.
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Speaking to reporters, he said, “There is a law, which states that a minister should be removed from his post if he is facing criminal charges. Malik should be removed or asked to step down from his post.”
Apart from being the chief spokesperson of NCP, Malik is the Minority Affairs and Skill Development Minister in the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress’s Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
“Two chief ministers of Maharashtra had resigned from their post in the past after facing such serious allegations. It is a tradition in the state to step away from a constitutional post till the charges are cleared,” he said.
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BJP leader Kirit Somaiya said, “After former home minister Anil Deshmukh, now Malik has been arrested under the ongoing probe by the ED. Those ministers who are indulging in corrupt practices in the Uddhav Thackeray-led government will face the consequences. We will make Maharashtra corruption-free.”
Countering the BJP’s attack, Sanjay Raut said in a tweet, “Attempts of backstabbing are on since it is not possible to fight the MVA face-to-face. Let it be. Let there be euphoria that a minister has been arrested in a cunning manner. Nawab Malik shouldn’t be asked to resign. We will fight and win. Even Kansa and Ravana were killed. This is Hindutva. Jai maharashtra!”