It is clear that in a coalition government, relying heavily on NCP support, Mr Thackeray was not free to sack the home minister
Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh, who put in his papers on Monday, at last saw the writing on the wall. He should have shown the courage to resign suo motu once former police commissioner, Parambir Singh, made the allegation that Mr Deshmukh had orally instructed suspended junior police officer Sachin Vaze, now under investigation, to collect Rs 100 crore per month.
Even if Mr Deshmukh had contemplated to quit, his party chief Sharad Pawar made his continuance a matter of prestige for the alliance government headed by Shiv Sena leader Udhav Thackeray. However, the order of the Bombay high court on Monday, directing the CBI to carry out a “preliminary inquiry” into Mr Singh’s allegation “preferably within 15 days”, gave Mr Pawar or Mr Deshmukh no leeway.
It is just as well that the home minister is gone. The Maharashtra CM is likely to be much relieved. It is clear that in a coalition government, relying heavily on NCP support, Mr Thackeray was not free to sack the home minister. This was a pity, of course. With the high court ordering a probe, the CM may at last find his voice. On the other hand, the prestige of Mr Pawar may have suffered. How the state politics takes shape hereon will be worth watching.
There can be no doubt that an independent probe into the allegations against the former home minister is the need of the hour. But does the CBI any more have the credentials to be independent? This police outfit controlled by the Centre has been called a “caged parrot” by the Supreme Court. In the present instance, there is virtual political war between the parties running Maharashtra and the party running the Centre. The Bombay high court may have erred in not getting the matter inquired into by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or a high court.