NEW DELHI / MUMBAI: Amid speculation of a “meeting” with NCP leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel in Ahmedabad, home minister Amit Shah on Sunday said “everything need not be made public”.
The cryptic response, which stopped well short of denying whether he had met the NCP duo, came after speculation swirled through the day of a secret meeting. NCP, however, came out with a formal denial late in the evening. “There was no such meeting, it is a BJP conspiracy,” NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik told TOI.
It is a fact that Pawar and Patel were in Ahmedabad but they never met Shah. It is planted news to divert attention from main issues, “Malik said.
Sources confirmed that Shah as well as Pawar and Patel happened to be in Ahmedabad on Saturday but there was no clarity on whether they met. The development came as tensions sparked by the sensational plot to extort money from industrialist Mukesh Ambani escalated among constituents of MVA, and triggered speculation in the country’s political and financial capitals.
Amit Shah, BJP sources said, had taken time off his intense electioneering schedule to meet his two grand-daughters whom he dotes on. Likewise, sources in Ahmedabad’s business and political circles said Pawar and Patel, who were in Jaipur, had stopped in Ahmedabad on their way back to Mumbai and were hosted by industrialist Gautam Adani.
However, there was no confirmation from any quarter of them meeting Shah at Adani’s residence or any other place in Ahmedabad.
Pawar and Patel’s original plan was to visit the Statue of Unity along with Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani. However, the plan was shelved due to rising Covid-19 cases. They decided to make a detour to Ahmedabad on their way back to Mumbai and after landing at Ahmedabad airport at 9.30 pm, drove straight to Adani’s residence.
Sources said they stayed overnight and left the next morning after breakfast.
If lack of verifiable information about the “meeting” failed to quell speculation, it has only partially to do with Shah refraining from scotching it. The buzz gained traction because of the timing. Sunday also saw NCP member and Maharashtra deputy CM Ajit Pawar taking exception to Sena’s MP Sanjay Raut taking a dig at Anil Deshmukh by saying that the latter got charge of the home department after Jayant Patil and Dilip Walse-Patil backed out.
The sense of intrigue about the sheer happenstance of Shah and the NCP duo being in Ahmedabad amid a busy electioneering season had not abated even after Nawab Malik blamed the rampant curiosity on a conspiracy by BJP.