By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Nov 9 : A fresh war of words broke out between the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government and Raj Bhavan arising out of the arrest and judicial custody of Republic TV Managing Director and Chief Editor Arnab Goswami, here on Monday.
The developments came as Bombay High Court rejected Goswami’s plea for interim bail, quashing of the police FIR against him and stopping the ongoing investigations into the double-suicide of an architect Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik in Alibaug (Raigad) on May 5, 2018.
Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Monday called up and spoke with Home Minister Anil Deshmukh expressing “concern about Goswami’s security and health”.
He also urged Deshmukh to permit Goswami’s family to meet and speak with him while he is in judicial custody till Nov. 18, and currently lodged in Taloja Central Jail.
Earlier, the Governor had conveyed similar concerns to Deshmukh “over the manner of arrest of Goswami” – who was nabbed on Nov. 4 and is currently in judicial custody in Taloja Central Jail, Raigad.
Later, Bharatiya Janata Party Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis called upon the Bombay High Court “to take suo moto cognizance” of the way the MVA government “has treated Goswami during the entire process of arrest to handling under custody, as alleged by him”.
Taking umbrage at this, Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress leaders slammed both Koshyari and Fadnavis, accusing them of siding with “an accused instead of the victim (Naik) and his family”.
“It would have been better if the Governor had expressed concerns for the family of Naik instead of sympathising with an accused before the law. The Governor, as the head of the state should support the police and family’s quest for justice in the matter,” Transport Minister Anil Parab said sharply.
Frowning at the Governor’s contentions, NCP Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Malik said that security of all all people in jail is the state government’s responsibility and as per the jail manual, all inmates whether undertrials or convicts – are allowed to meet or speak with their family, as per the jail manual.
“However, the Governor should have realized that he is expressing concern for one single accused (Goswami) who has been arrested for a serious offence is surprising It would have been better if he had displayed similar concern for the Naik’s family which was running from pillar to post for justice all these years,” Malik asserted.
Congress Spokesperson Sachin Sawant sarcastically remarked that “it is unfortunate how the stand of the Governor and the Opposition BJP always seem to coincide on various issues”.
Sawant said that neither the Governor nor Fadnavis have said word for the family of the late Naik mother-son duo, who was a Maharashtrian and a “son of the soil” of this state.
“Now, Fadnavis is directing the HC what it should do ‘Suo moto’, which amounts to interference with the judiciary and tantamount to a contempt of the court. If the is worried so much about one particular accused (Goswami), then it should move an intervenor plea before the courts,” Sawant said.
This is yet another in a series of flare-ups between the MVA and the Governor in the past over one year, starting with the early-morning swearing-in of Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar as CM and Deputy CM, but the government lasted for barley 80 hours.
Later, the MVA’s Uddhav Thackeray was sworn-in as Chief Minister, but relations between the government and Raj Bhavan continued to remain uneasy if not rocky.
In October, things went on a downslide again with the Governor questioning the CM’s ‘Hindutva’ and secular credentials, and Thackeray hit back.
Subsequently, Union Home Minister Amit Shah chided the Governor, while NCP President Sharad Pawar said anybody with self-respect would have quit.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: email@example.com)