NCP leader Ajit Pawar, who recently pulled a midnight stunner with the BJP and was appointed Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister, has been given a clean chit in the Rs 70,000 crore irrigation scam.
Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) file of inquiry against Deputy CM Ajit Pawar in Vidarbha irrigation scam closed, CNN News18 has reported.
The move comes amid an intense political storm brewing in Maharashtra.
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However, ACB DG Paramvir Singh told CNN News18, "We had recommended this almost three months ago that there was no role of Ajit Pawar in these nine cases. Probe is still going on in other cases."
"We are investigating around 3000 tenders in irrigation related complaints. These are routine inquiries which are closed and all ongoing investigations are continuing as they were earlier." Singh added.
Singh also told news agency ANI, "None of the cases that were closed today are related to Ajit Pawar."
Sources in Maharashtra ACB have told ANI that the cases that were closed on November 25 were conditional and that they could be reopened if more information comes to light or the courts order further inquiry.
What is the irrigation scam?
Ajit Pawar was among NCP ministers who were in-charge of the irrigation department at different times between 1999 and 2014 when the Congress and the NCP were part of the coalition government in Maharashtra.
The scam, pegged at Rs 70,000 crore, relates to alleged corruption and irregularities in approval and execution of various irrigation projects in the state during the Congress-NCP rule.
It was probed by the ACB. In November 2018, Union Minister Raosaheb Danve— who was then the state BJP president— had said that Pawar can be arrested "anytime" in the alleged scam case.
In fact, ahead of the assembly elections in Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, in an interview to a Marathi news channel, had said: “Remember one thing. At any cost Ajit Pawar will have no space in the BJP. We will complete the irrigation scam probe and all involved will face action.”