The Shiv Sena leadership together with its alliance partners in the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government will take a collective decision on whether Sena MP’s wife Varsha should appear before the Enforcement Directorate for questioning.
Sanjay's wife, Varsha Raut, was on Sunday asked to appear before the federal agency in Mumbai on December 29 in the PMC Bank money laundering case. This was the third summons issued to her after she skipped the earlier two on health grounds. Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress joined forces and said the summons were an attempt to target opposition leaders by the central government.
According to sources, the MVA allies will fight out the ED notice to Sanjay Raut's wife together, and the decision, on whether to answer the summons will be a political decision and not a personal one.
Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday evening held a closed-door meeting with Sanjay Raut and top leaders of MVA, including Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, that lasted for an hour-and-a-half. The Shiv Sena has also sought legal opinion on the issue.
Raut had earlier in the day alleged central agencies were being used to "destabilise" the Uddhav Thackeray-led government in Maharashtra and claimed BJP leaders had been in touch with him for over a year to effect this plan. Speaking to reporters, he alleged that Central agencies were being used as "weapons" against family members of (BJP's) political opponents who cannot be won over.
Raut said BJP leaders had a list of 22 MLAs of the Congress and the NCP with them "who will be made to resign under the pressure of the Central investigating agencies".
Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress are constituents of the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, which was formed in November 2019 after the Sena and the BJP fell out over sharing the post of chief minister following the Assembly elections.
"I will hold discussions with NCP president Sharad Pawar too," Raut said when asked if his wife will appear before the ED in response to the summons issued against her. Raut said he was a Shiv Sainik of Balasaheb Thackeray, and will "expose" BJP leaders.
"They will have to take flights out of the country like Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallaya," he said. Raut claimed he had a list of "120 BJP leaders who are fit case for a probe by the ED for money laundering".
The Sena MP said he had been doing regular correspondence with the federal agency for the last one-and- a-half months regarding a Rs 50 lakh loan taken by his wife ten years ago from a friend to purchase a house. He said all the details regarding this loan had already been submitted to the ED during the correspondence.
State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh told reporters in Nagpur that whoever speaks against policies or leaders of the BJP is facing action from Central agencies. He said the use of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for "political purposes" had never happened in Maharashtra.
"Anybody who speaks against policies or leaders of the BJP faces the ED or the CBI. As far as the Central Bureau of Investigation is concerned, we had taken a decision that any probe by that agency in Maharashtra cannot be pursued without the permission of the state government," Deshmukh said. Another senior NCP leader Praful Patel told reporters that several people are now getting notices from the ED.
"....The reason (behind getting such notices) may be political or may be something else...Whatever it my be the facts will stand out. I don't want to derive any other meaning out of this action," he said. Yuva Sena president and state minister Aaditya Thackeray has termed the ED action "politically motivated".
"The ED move is politically motivated. We are not scared. The MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi) government is stable," Aaditya, son of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, told reporters when asked about the ED summons.
(With PTI inputs)