By Sushil Kutty
Calls for Uddhav Thackeray’s resignation haven’t been many, but the Maharashtra Chief Minister like all heads of states has enemies. And former CM Narayan Rane is by all means one. Rane wants Uddhav Thackeray to quit the Singhasan of Maharashtra. Resign. Leave Mumbai and Maharashtra’s fate to the future and whoever takes his place. Wears his crown of thorns. All this because Uddhav Thackeray was too fond of a police officer who didn’t mind killing to make a killing.
On the face of it there’s a tight undercurrent of unease in Maharashtra’s rarefied circles. Covid-19 has made a resurgent return. Some are calling it a virulent second phase. And, like before, Mumbai and Pune are top of the chart though it’s the Nagpur Division which is breaking records for the dead and the infected. But behind the vaccine jabs and the traffic jams, there’s political turmoil, just below the invisible turbulence.
And the only person enjoying a peaceful siesta is Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, who every night on his TV channel is channelizing his energies, mostly spent in spreading noise pollution, to take his ire out on the now in NIA custody suspended Mumbai Police Assist. Police Inspector Sachin Vaze. The two are fairly recent acquaintances and hate each other’s guts! Vaze was the policeman who had dragged Arnab out of his cluttered Mumbai residence, off to the can in Taloja Jail.
Arnab managed bail, but the ordeal forced him to flee Mumbai. Today, Arnab says Vaze was given six months by the MVA Government to wind up all Republic TV operations in Mumbai. It’s come to that point that it’s not Mukesh Ambani’s Antilla which is at the centre of the crime scene, it’s Arnab Goswami’s Mumbai residence, which was Sachin Vaze’s and then Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh’s prime target. Who’s Ambani, the richest man of Asia, bah!
Anyway, if Uddhav Thackeray has a friend in the enemy’s camp, it’s Arnab Goswami, who has by making himself the main target of Vaze, by extension that of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, diluted the more serious charges of murder and “terrorism” levelled against Sachin Vaze! Arnab doesn’t want to just sit back and watch the show unravel, he has to be at the centre of things, the hog for publicity, a megalomaniac if ever there was one!
But the opposite party is not dumb. The MVA government of Uddhav Thackeray, ably guided by the best [email protected] in the business in the form of a Rajya Sabha MP, who on his best day can ‘Ukhaad’ anybody of both the sexes, isn’t taking it easy. Ever since the Vaze crime spree broke, CM Thackeray has been holding hectic meetings with his ministers and senior police officers, and he is not giving himself any slack.
Arnab Goswami might have a great opinion about himself, but Goswami is not Uddhav Thackeray’s big headache. That distinction goes to Sachin Vaze, former encounter specialist and alleged cold-blooded killer, maybe also running an extortion racket. The man’s singing like a canary, blurting out half his life’s secrets to the NIA. And the cars and SUVs rolling out of his garage, so to speak, are driving the MVA Government nuts.
One report says, Sachin Vaze did all the hanky-panky to prove to himself that 16 years out of the loop hadn’t affected his core competencies in any manner! The danger is when will this Hannibal name the Netas behind his criminal overdrive? There’s a lot of buzz about a minister or two involved. If Vaze talks he’ll harm, if Vaze does not talk also he’ll harm! Either way, Uddhav Thackeray will be in a fix.
Sachin Vaze has his knotted thumb on the Uddhav Thackeray’s jugular, and the MVA Government’s fate hangs on the revelations of a criminal mastermind who twice wore the uniform and twice committed alleged murder. Band by any length of the imagination, Uddhav Thackeray squandered all the goodwill he had stored in his willowy frame. The Sushant Singh Rajput and the Disha Salian deaths had already eroded confidence in his government, but it’s Vaze on a long rope who has done him the most harm.
What the heck was Uddhav Thackeray thinking? Why did he allow Vaze to be reinstated, what was the all-fired need? And why did Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh give the most important cases to an Assist. Police Inspector Sachin Vaze just back from a 16 year hiatus, what/who drove Singh to commit career-ending harakiri? Really, it’s all a mystery. Everybody’s waiting for the “big names” to spill out. And then the deathknell and the drumbeats!
Is Uddhav Thackeray’s end nigh? Will he have to put in his papers and retreat to the cellar in Matoshree? Sharad Pawar gives no such inkling. Actually, if that was so, Pawar would have been the first to announce it. On the contrary, Pawar is talking of Third Front putting Narendra Modi out to pasture! From all indications, Narayan Rane may not get his wish.
The question remains, what’s cooking behind the scenes? The NIA is doing some shuffling of the cards and it’s not even being pokerfaced about it. But it’s holding back some of the cards. That’s for sure. All central investigating agencies are caged. What the NIA is holding back is what counts. Then, again, it might not have found the clincher, yet. The blackmailer’s delight!
Political blackmailing is an old device. All political parties, irrespective of colour and hue and shade, do it on the side, sometimes upfront and direct. The BJP is notorious for political blackmailing, like the Congress used to be. If Sachin Vaze has a highly damaging revelation to make, if he spills the beans and the beans are poisonous, nothing will be able to save the Uddhav Thackeray Government. By all reckoning, Param Bir Singh was not the biggest fish in the Vaze pond. (IPA Service)