The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Thursday dubbed as "politically motivated" the ACB's affidavit claiming major lapses on part of former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and others in the alleged multi-crore irrigation scam.
NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik questioned why the probe was lingering for four years "while it could have been completed in a year", and accused the government of using it "as a tool" against the party.
"It is a politically motivated move. We will definitely keep our position before the court, and the court will decide, as dada (Pawar) has already said," Malik added.
Pawar had yesterday declined to comment on the issue, saying the matter was sub-judice and that the response would be filed in court. Besides questioning the time taken to complete the probe, Malik sought to know why the contracts concerned have not been cancelled yet "if at all there was any corruption".
He also sought to know why payments were still being made to the contractors and noted that cost escalations were also happening.
"So, they are using it as a tool. And if at all corruption has taken place there...all the contractors belong to the Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP will also have to explain if they too were part of the corruption," he said.
Maharashtra Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan had Wednesday said there was no political interference in the probe into the alleged irrigation scam when the previous Congress-NCP government was in power.
The Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) informed the Bombay High Court's Nagpur bench on Tuesday that its probe into the alleged scam has revealed major lapses on part of Pawar and other government officials.
The scam, pegged at around Rs 70,000 crore, relates to alleged corruption and irregularities in approval and execution of various irrigation projects in Maharashtra during the Congress-NCP rule.
Pawar was among the NCP ministers who were in charge of the irrigation department at different times between 1999 and 2014 during the Congress-NCP coalition rule in Maharashtra.