The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Centre stays off stamp scam

Nov. 16 (PTI): Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani today said the Centre would decide on any action to be taken in the Rs 3,000-crore stamp paper scam in Maharashtra after talks with the state government, even as chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde denied political interference in the investigations and assured an “impartial” probe.

“If we have to do something, it will be on the basis of talks with the Maharashtra government,” the deputy Prime Minister said in New Delhi after a 30-minute meeting with Maharashtra governor Mohammed Fazal.

“I have not asked for any report on the scam from the governor,” Advani said.

“What the state government says on the issue” is more important, said the deputy Prime Minister.

Speaking in Solapur, Sushil Kumar Shinde said he was satisfied with the probe by the special investigation team that has “not spared even top-ranking police officers”.

“My government has given them a free hand. If, as our opponents are alleging, any prominent political personality is found to have links with main accused Abdul Karim Telgi, I am sure that SIT will not hesitate to book him,” asserted the chief minister.

In a statement, Mumbai-based businessman Antim Totla, who has been in the news for his alleged proximity to a relative of deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal, today denied any links with Telgi.

The businessman also refuted allegations of having paid Rs 20 crore as bribe to a senior minister of the ruling Democratic Front government on Telgi’s behalf.

Totla admitted to knowing political leaders such as Gopinath Munde and Narayan Rane of the BJP, as well as the deputy chief minister.

However, the businessman asserted that he “never took undue benefit” of their acquaintance.

Reposing faith in ongoing investigations, the deputy Prime Minister said he had not demanded a CBI inquiry.

“(The) CBI is already looking into the matter on the request of Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Gujarat,” pointed out the deputy Prime Minister. “Its chief is on record stating if other states ask the investigating agency, it will take up their request as well,” he said.

The bureau is planning to seek Telgi’s remand in connection with the cases it has registered in the three states.

CBI sources said Telgi’s role came to the fore in Gujarat last year after Sadiq Ibrahim, a kingpin arrested by the CBI, allegedly named Telgi as the scam mastermind.

The sources said the bureau would soon approach an Ahmedabad court to seek Telgi’s remand in the case.

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