Mumbai, Nov. 28: After shunted police chief Ranjit Singh Sharma told the court that 19 politicians, including some ministers, figure in the diary of stamp paper scam mastermind Abdul Karim Telgi, both the ruling party and the Opposition are jittery.
The leaders are, however, putting up a brave front. Chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who has been saying that the Centre did not do enough to probe the Rs 39,000-crore scam “which is a decade old”, has declared that none of his ministers figure among the infamous 19.
Moments after the high court rejected the demand for a CBI probe and asked the special investigation team to continue its inquiry, deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal said the ministers mentioned might not be in the present government.
“In fact, it is Opposition leader Narayan Rane who should put in his papers as the SIT has questioned him regarding the scam,” he said.
Rane replied that the government was still trying to shield Sharma, accused of shielding Telgi, because he might spill the beans.
“Sharma has the names (of the 19 politicians) and he may reveal them at any stage, so the government is going soft on him,” he said.
The BJP has been claiming that the very fact that it is seeking a CBI probe shows that its hands are clean.
But though they will not admit it, everyone is running scared. The Telgi diary, like Jain diary in the hawala scam some years ago, promises to be explosive.
Sharma, against whom a departmental inquiry has been instituted, is likely to squeal when the special investigation team grills him further in the coming days. The team is now looking at the possibility of holding Sharma accountable under criminal law.
But if there is one person who is chuckling with glee, it is Ashok Gajanan Chaugule. He has made a film on the life and times of Telgi and hurriedly premiered it yesterday.
The Marathi film, Shalya, was completed after a record nine days of shooting. Directed by Hemant Kumar Sharma, the film revolves around one Roasaheb Nelgi — not very far from Abdul Karim Telgi — and “deals with fake stamp papers, notes and challans”.
Sharma is likely to be given a farewell by his colleagues as he retires on November 30, according to an invitation letter sent by the Maharashtra unit of IPS association to its members. Without naming Sharma, the invitation said all the officers retiring on that date would be given a farewell.