Jolt to BJP: Mumbai Police file FIR against Oppn leader Pravin Darekar (Ld)

In another jolt to the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Mumbai Police have registered an FIR against Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council, Pravin Darekar, in connection with an alleged cheating case, officials said on Tuesday.

The police action followed a complaint filed on January 8 with the MRA Marg police station by Aam Aadmi Party state Secretary Dhananjay Shinde, accusing Darekar of allegedly cheating people, the Mumbai District Central Cooperative Bank, and the state Cooperative Department, said a party spokesperson.

Interestingly, nearly four months earlier in September 2021, Shiv Sena leader Kishore Tiwari had filed a similar criminal complaint with the Ghatkopar police station, claiming that Darekar was “a ‘crorepati’ labourer who had allegedly misdeclared his professional credentials in his election affidavits”.

“The Ghatkopar police had probed the matter and later submitted its report to the state government for suitable action. In the second case (Tuesday), Darekar faces various criminal sections. Union Minister for Cooperation, Amit Shah, and the BJP should now make their stand clear,” Tiwari said.

Darekar has been charged under IPC sections pertaining to cheating, criminal breach of trust, criminal conspiracy etc., the police said.

Tiwari’s earlier complaint had alleged that Darekar posed as a member of the Pratigya Mazur Sahakari Sanstha (PMSS), Ghatkopar, a labour cooperative society, on the basis of which he represented as a Director with the MDCCB, and worked as a fulltime Chairman from 2011-2021.

However, in his statutory affidavits submitted for two elections, Darekar stated on oath his profession – and that of his wife Sayli Darekar – as ‘independent business’, which was false and misleading, said Tiwari.

The issue was first highlighted by IANS — “Maha BJP LoP Pravin Darekar is a acrorepati labourer: Sena leader” — on September 25, 2021.

“On the basis of these untruths, he was elected to the Upper House on both occasions, looted the government through full salaries, allowances, honorarium, privileges, and as Leader of Opposition, enjoys a Cabinet minister rank plus the MDCCB perks,” Tiwari pointed out.

AAP’s Shinde said that Darekar’s claims were later found bogus and during his chairmanship, he indulged in various alleged financial irregularities at MDCCB, worth to the tune of over Rs 2,000 crore, for which he plans to move the Mumbai Police’s Economic Offences Wing.

The BJP, meanwhile, slammed the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi government of Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress, alleging the latest development is “a move to muzzle the Opposition”.

NCP state spokesperson Mahesh Tapase hit back, saying that the police FIR follows a complaint filed by the AAP and the BJP is unnecessarily tarnishing the MVA with falsehoods.

Not convinced by the arguments, the BJP raised slogans inside and outside both Houses of the Legislature, which were later adjourned for the day, while Darekar denied the allegations levelled against him.

Outside, senior leaders, including Leader of Opposition (Assembly) Devendra Fadnavis, attacked the MVA for acting against Darekar in ‘vendetta’ for the exposes carried out by the BJP, and countered it by asking the government to disclose how many legislators are associated with labour organisations.

“The complaint was probed and later closed. Yet, Darekar is being framed as he is a strong critic of the MVA government,” said BJP MLC Chandrashekhar Bawankule, condemning the police move.

“This is an attempt to silence the Opposition, which is cornering the MVA government on various wrongdoings and exposing its scams,” claimed MLC Bhai Girkar.

“As expected, the next target is Darekar. We had predicted this well before. The new Mumbai Police Commissioner, Sanjay Pandey, is acting according to his master’s wishes. But we are all with Darekar,” said MLA Nitesh Rane.

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