Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday expressed worry over the murder of journalist Shashikant Warishe and said the law and order situation in Maharashtra was worsening while the seriousness of those in power was in doubt.
Warishe (48) was mowed down by an SUV allegedly driven by land dealer Pandharinath Amberkar on February 6 and died in hospital the next day. Amberkar, arrested for murder, allegedly used to threaten any person who opposed land acquisition for a proposed refinery in the area.
An article written by Warishe against Amberkar had appeared in a local Marathi newspaper on the morning of the incident, which took place near a petrol pump in Rajapur, some 440 kilometres from Mumbai. "The Warishe case is a serious issue. Accidents and murders in the state are on the rise. The law and order situation in the state is worsening. There are doubts how much those having responsibility for the law and order situation take this seriously,” Pawar told reporters here.
The home portfolio in the Eknath Shinde government is handled by deputy chief minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis. Pawar also said the visit by Prime Minister Narendra to Mumbai on Friday to launch two Vande Bharat trains, two elevated roads and an underpass was in view of the upcoming civic elections, though the NCP chief added "there is no problem if he gives something to Maharashtra".
Queried on a proposal passed by the BJP in its meet on Friday claiming the Maha Vikas Aghadi government under Uddhav Thackeray wanting to imprison some of the saffron party's leaders, Pawar rejected the charge. Instead, MVA leaders like NCP's Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik and Shiv Sena (UB) Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut were jailed, Pawar cited. Malik continues to be in prison while Deshmukh and Raut are out on bail.
Pawar denied there was a feud in the MVA, which comprises the NCP, Shiv Sena (UBT) and the Congress. The Uddhav Thackeray faction had recently said MVA's problems began with the resignation of Congress' Nana Patole as Assembly Speaker.
"Nana Patole resigned a year ago. He did not take everyone in confidence while resigning. However, there is no point discussing it now as its long over," Pawar said. Asked about some segments of the NCP wanting senior leader Ajit Pawar as CM, the party patriarch said "it is the wish of many but we do not have the numbers".
"If we had the numbers, we would have taken a decision (on Ajit Pawar as CM) after taking into confidence our alliance partners," Pawar claimed.