Mumbai: Over three weeks after Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), his Nationalist Congress Party on Friday temporarily relieved him of his portfolios and other official charges.
Malik, 62, who held the Minority Affairs and Skill Development, besides being Guardian Minister of Gondiya and Parbhani districts, was arrested on February 23, and is currently in judicial custody till March 21.
At a meeting presided over by the NCP President Sharad Pawar, it was decided to relieve Malik of his portfolios and other official charges to ensure work does not suffer and files don’t pile up in his absence.
State NCP President and Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil told the media that while Malik will continue as a Cabinet Minister and party’s Mumbai President, his ministerial assignments and related duties shall be handled by other colleagues.
His cabinet portfolios shall be divided among two other NCP ministers, while Social Justice Minister Dhananjay Munde and Urban Development MoS Prajakt Tanpure shall be the Guardian Ministers of Parbhani and Gondiya, respectively and Mumbai NCP shall be overseen by two Working Presidents.
For the Ministerial changes, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will be informed and he will take the final decision, said Patil.
The development, considered a minor climbdown came even as the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has been clamoring for Malik’s resignation or sack from the Cabinet after his arrest, but the Maha Vikas Aghadi had spurned the demand.
Top NCP leaders including Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, Ministers Patil, Dilip Walse-Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal, senior leaders like Praful Patel, Sunil Tatkare and others attended the meeting at Sharad Pawar’s residence.