Anil Parab, Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra Transport Minister, has been embroiled in a controversy over corruption allegations levelled by the arrested Mumbai police officer Sachin Waze.

Days after the resignation of Anil Deshmukh as Home Minister following a CBI inquiry directed by the Bombay High Court into the corruption allegations levelled by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh, another minister of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, Anil Parab — Shiv Sena leader and Transport Minister — has been embroiled in a controversy over corruption allegations levelled by the arrested Mumbai police officer Sachin Waze.

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Who is Anil Parab?

Anil Parab, 56, is a three-term Shiv Sena legislator in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, the upper house of the state legislature. He was inducted into the state cabinet by the Chief Minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray in December 2019. Parab, an advocate, is known for his loyalty to the Thackerays. Apart from his aggressive political style, he handles the legal issues of the party and plays a crucial role in the civic elections for the party. He has been the Vibhag Pramukh (divisional head) since 2001 and is the only leader to be entrusted with two divisions, his area of operation thus stretching from Bandra to Andheri, a huge swathe of the western suburbs.

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What are the allegations levelled by Waze?

Waze, in the letter he tried to submit to the NIA court on Wednesday, claimed that he was called by Parab to his official bungalow in July-August 2020. Waze further alleged that, at this meeting, Parab asked him to “initiate primary talks” with a Mumbai trust against which a preliminary inquiry was on, and sought Rs 50 crore from the trust to close the inquiry. Waze claimed that he expressed his inability to intervene as he did not have control over the inquiry and did not know anyone from the trust.

Waze further alleged that in January, Parab approached him asking to look into the inquiry against the fraudulent contractors listed in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and asked him to collect “at least Rs 2 crore” from about 50 such contractors. Waze claimed that he had not found any incriminating material while probing the BMC contractors’ list till his transfer following the Ambani case in March.

Parab on controversy

Parab denied the allegations and stated that he is ready to face any inquiry including the narco test but will not resign as minister. He also alleged that it is a conspiracy hatched by the BJP to defame him, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the government. “I deny both the allegations as these are false allegations. I swear in the name of (late Shiv Sena founder) Balasaheb and my two daughters and want to tell the people of the state that these allegations are false and it is an attempt to defame me,” said Parab while addressing the media persons on Wednesday.

The minister also questioned the timing of Waze’s letter stating that it comes a day after the Bombay High Court ordered a preliminary inquiry against former Home Minister Deshmukh on the allegations of former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh. “For the last 2-3 days, BJP leaders had been shouting that they will take the resignation of another minister. BJP leaders probably knew that Sachin Waze was supposed to submit the letter today and have used the central investigating agencies for it,” he alleged.

He also claimed that it is a strategy of the BJP that a close person of the chief minister needs to be defamed to defame the chief minister and the government.

Why Anil Parab is so important in Shiv Sena

Parab gained prominence in 2017 after the Shiv Sena and BJP broke the alliance and fought the Mumbai civic elections separately. During the elections, Parab countered all the attacks of the BJP including its attempt to corner Sena over the allegations of corruption in BMC. Within months, Parab was named as the party’s group leader in the legislative council by sidelining senior party leaders. Over the years, Parab’s closeness with Matoshree increased and he gained the confidence of the party chief Uddhav Thackeray through playing important roles for the party. He also played a key role in the party’s election strategies in the Lok Sabha and state assembly polls in 2019.

In December 2019, Thackeray sidelined the senior leaders and offered the ministerial berth to Parab. Since then, Parab has emerged as the troubleshooter for the party and has been attacking the BJP over government matters on the advice of Thackeray. The party leadership consults Parab on all the important matters such as housing, legal, BMC and others of the government that are of the interest of the party. Thackeray has deputed Parab on many occasions to counter the BJP on multiple issues in the past one-and-a-half year. Parab has been on the radar of the opposition party since his induction in the cabinet in 2019 due to his loyalty to the Thackerays and the crucial role he plays on important matters of the government and the party. So, any attack on Parab is an indirect attack on Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

Sources said that Thackeray is unlikely to take Parab’s resignation in wake of the allegations levelled by Waze. Parab will continue to play his role, as usual, said sources.

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