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BJP Challenges Sharad Pawar's Defence of Anil Deshmukh, Points Out Presser in Feb

File photo of Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. (ANI)

File photo of Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. (ANI)

Deshmukh, under fire over corruption charges by IPS officer Param Bir Singh, said it was only a brief interaction with media when he was stepping out of hospital.

The BJP on Monday claimed that Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had held a "press conference" on February 15 which contradicted NCP chief Sharad Pawar's assertion that he was hospitalised then. Deshmukh, an NCP leader who is under fire following allegations of corruption by IPS officer Param Bir Singh, however, said it was only a brief interaction with the media when he was stepping out of hospital.

Defending Deshmukh, Pawar had said the minister was hospitalised from February 5 to February 15 and then he was in home quarantine till February 27. Singh, former Mumbai Police Commissioner, has alleged that Deshmukh had called police officer Sachin Waze around mid-February at his official residence and asked him to help with collecting funds from bars and restaurants.

Countering the NCP chief, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis tweeted, "Shri Sharad Pawar ji said, from 15th to 27th February HM Anil Deshmukh was in home quarantine. But actually along with security guards & media he was seen taking press conference!," Fadnavis said. Deshmukh, however, said in a video posted on Twitter that he was admitted to Nagpur's Alexis Hospital from February 5 to February 15 as he had contracted COVID-19 and discharged on February 15.

"Several journalists were standing outside the hospital as I was stepping out of it. They wanted to ask me some questions. I was feeling weak since I had just recovered from COVID-19. "So, I sat on a chair near the gate and replied to queries of journalists. Then I immediately got into the vehicle and got home quarantined," Deshmukh said.

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He was in home isolation till February 27 and stepped out on February 28 and attended a meeting at Sahyadri Guest House in Mumbai, Deshmukh added. Pawar, earlier in the day, had ruled out resignation by Deshmukh, saying Singh's corruption allegations pertain to a period when he was hospitalised.

In his eight-page letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Singh on Saturday claimed Deshmukh wanted police officers to collect Rs 100 crore monthly from bars and hotels.