Asked about the meeting, Raut initially said, “Why worry? Can’t a senior MP meet the home minister?” By 2pm on Monday, however, he had put out a tweet categorically denying any such secret meeting had taken place. Patil, on the other hand, said, “A meeting does not necessarily have to be to discuss politics. It can go beyond politics.”
Though NCP has denied the meeting took place, the buzz has gained traction as it comes amid tensions in the Maha Vikas Aghadi over controversies the state government is embroiled in.
Raut had in his column in the Sena mouthpiece Saamna on Sunday called NCP’s Anil Deshmukh an “accidental home minister,” and tensions between NCP and Sena have been escalating ever since the MVA government has been at the receiving end of opposition attacks after a car laden with explosives was found outside industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s house, the murder of Thane businessman Mansukh Hiran, the arrest of disgraced cop Sachin Waze and allegations of extortion and corruption made by former city police chief Param Bir Singh against Deshmukh.
The unease over Raut’s criticism of Deshmukh also deepened on Monday with leaders of both Congress and NCP saying he had “exceeded his brief” and Congress minister Balasaheb Thorat saying his party would bring the matter to the notice of CM Uddhav Thackeray. Raut had, among other things, written that the MVA government had no mechanism for damage control and thus had faced huge embarrassment after Singh alleged Deshmukh had given Waze a target of mobilizing Rs 100 every month.
Thorat, who is the revenue minister, said, “Raut’s comments are uncalled for and in bad taste. We will take it up with the CM.”