'Ask Fadnavis if It's Political Vendetta': Sharad Pawar 'Happy' With ED Action ahead of Maharashtra Polls
File photo of NCP chief Sharad Pawar. (PTI photo)
Mumbai: NCP president Sharad Pawar on Wednesday said he learnt of the Enforcement Directorate’s action against him through media reports and if true, he was happy with the action in the run-up to Maharashtra elections.
Speaking to CNN-News18, Pawar said, "I haven't yet officially heard from ED. There has been no notice. I have only heard from media reports. But if this is true, I am happy.”
Though the veteran politician has not received a formal ED notice till now, Maharashtra’s Baramati was shut on Wednesday to protest against the move.
When asked if he felt it was political vendetta, Pawar refused to comment. “I can't say anything about that. You will have to ask the chief minister about it," he said.
The ED has registered an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) against Sharad Pawar, his nephew Ajit Pawar and a few others in a criminal case in connection with the Rs 25,000-crore scam pertaining to the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB).
Pawar said, “I am not surprised that the government has taken this decision. This is a clear-cut indication that I am getting a very good response. I’m happy because I haven't taken a single thing from the bank. I am happy because elections are round the corner and I am getting extremely good response from Maharashtra. Because of this action, the response for me will definitely improve," he said.
Within hours, NCP workers started rallying on social media, changing their display pictures of those of Sharad Pawar.
“I don’t want to comment on whether this is politically motivated, but any sane person will think here is the case where Pawar is not associated with any decision-making authority. Yet, on complaint that certain decision-makers are close to me, some people think of me. I am quite happy because I am not a director or officer bearer of this bank for the last 50 years; I have had no decision-making authority for years now. I don't know how my name is there,” he said.
Pawar added that the state government gives guarantee to nationalised banks on behalf of such co-operative banks and the practise is not unusual. "This is normal practice. In this case, certain units were facing problems. There was a private complaint. Supreme Court had passed the order for impartial investigation," he said.
Pawar said he will visit the ED office at 2 pm on September 27 to submit "whatever information" has been sought in connection with the scam.
"I will be mostly out of Mumbai for Assembly poll campaigning. The agency officials shouldn't misunderstand that I am unavailable. I will go to them and give them whatever information they want," Pawar said.
Pawar said he believes in the country’s Constitution. "Maharashtra follows the ideology of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. We don't know bowing down before the Delhi takht (throne)," Pawar said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the ED registered the case based on the High Court directive. "It would be wrong to attribute a political motive for the ED action and call it a political vendetta (by the BJP government)," Fadnavis told reporters.
(With inputs from PTI)