NCP suspends MP accused of murder (Lead)

June 10th, 2009 - 9:43 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 10 (IANS) Padamsinh Patil, a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP from Maharashtra arrested on charge of murder, was suspended from the party Wednesday, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said.
A senior party leader, Patel told reporters here that the NCP’s disciplinary action committee decided to suspend Patil from its primary membership.

“If he is found guilty, we will expel him and take him back if not (found guilty),” he said.

The Central Bureau Investigation (CBI) arrested Patil from near Mumbai Sunday in connection with the killing of his cousin and Congress leader Pavan Raje Nimbalkar and his driver Samad Qazi in Navi Mumbai in 2006.

“NCP firmly believes in setting high standards of probity in public life and the law should take its own course,” said Patel, a confidant of NCP leader and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

Wednesday’s decision marked a change in the stand of the party, which had stoutly defended Patil only a day earlier.

Asked about this, Patel said: “It is not an issue of change of heart, he was arrested Saturday night and produced before the magistrate Monday. On Monday we decided to hold a meeting of the Disciplinary Action Committee. Since Monday and Tuesday we had parliament (session), we took the decision and made the announcement today.”

Patil, known to be close to Pawar, has claimed that he is innocent. He was elected to the Lok Sabha last month from Osmanabad in Maharashtra.

The arrest is a major embarrassment for the NCP, which rules Maharashtra in coalition with the Congress. Assembly elections in Maharashtra are due this year.

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