Shiv Sena MP and party’s chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut on Monday said that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) notice sent to his wife pertained to a loan taken by her for purchasing a house and said that he had made all the requisite declarations about the loan including in his affidavit while being elected to the Rajya Sabha. Raut added that he had all the requisite paperwork and he was not afraid of the ED, which he said had turned into a “parrot of the BJP”.
“Ten years ago, my wife, a teacher and a middle-class Marathi woman, took a loan of Rs 50 lakh from her friend to buy a house. We have shown the loan in the Rajya Sabha affidavit and to the Income-Tax. After realising that Maharashtra government cannot be toppled, ED has served her a notice now asking her to come for an inquiry and to harass her,” Raut said during a press conference held in Mumbai.
Raut, while acknowledging the ED notice, said that the agency has been communicating with his family since the last one and half months over the said loan and they had twice submitted documents sought by the ED pertaining to the loan.
The ED summons to Raut’s wife, Varsha, is in connection with a Rs 55 lakh loan taken by her from Madhuri Pravin Raut, wife of Pravin Raut, an accused in the Rs 1,030 crore redevelopment fraud allegedly perpetrated by Guruashish Constructions Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL). Pravin Raut is a director of Guruashish Constructions. HDIL and its promoters are accused of a Rs 6,200 crore fraud at PMC Bank. The bank is under regulatory restrictions after the Reserve Bank of India found out financial irregularities in its functioning, hiding and classification of loans given to HDIL.
In February, the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police arrested Pravin Raut after the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) complained that Guruashish was given a redevelopment project for Patra Chawl in Goregaon in suburban Mumbai in 2007, but instead of redeveloping, the company subcontracted the project to three other developers and also mortgaged some of the property with the consent of MHADA. Guruashish Constructions was taken to the bankruptcy court in 2017 after it defaulted on loan repayment of Rs 250 crore to Union Bank of India. In September, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) ordered the liquidation of the company and appointed a resolution professional to oversee its liquidation. The liquidation value of the company is Rs 126 crore.
Raut said that the transaction had no linkage to the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank scam case. “In their letters to us the ED has not mentioned or referred to the PMC Bank scam,” Raut said.
Referring to the ED notices to NCP chief Sharad Pawar, NCP leader Eknath Khadse and Sena legislator Pratap Sarnaik in last one year, the Sena MP said that the notices are issued to key leaders of the Maha Vikas Aghadi who were involved in government formation in Maharashtra and prevented the BJP from coming to power in the state. He also said that the Sena was capable of hitting back at its opponents and would hold back no punches.
“Attacking children, women and family is a sign of impotence. If somebody is going to do it, then the Sena will retaliate in the same way. I have discussed with our party chief Uddhav Thackeray ji. We will go to any level to retaliate. We are not scared and there is no reason to be afraid,” Raut said.
Terming the ED as BJP’s parrot, the Sena MP further said that there is no wrongdoing in the alleged transaction and the information sought by the ED would be given to it again.
On the question of whether his wife would go to the ED office he said that he was still taking advice over the next course of action. “We have not decided on it. We will take a decision after discussing with Uddhav Thackeray, Sharad Pawar and others. This is a political action and we will respond politically,” said Raut.
The Sena MP further claimed that some prominent BJP leaders and mediators had told him that the BJP would not let the MVA government survive. “I was threatened personally. I was shown a list of 22 MLAs from Sena, Congress and NCP that included people close to the Thackeray family. They said that the ED and other central agencies will detain these MLAs and will make them resign to topple this government. Since all of this failed, the notices have been to the people, who are strong supporters of the government, and their families to harass them,” he claimed.
Raut further raised a question on why ED is not probing the cases of BJP leaders. “None of the Sena leaders’ assets have increased by 1,600 times in one year. Has ED conducted an inquiry into the BJP leaders’ families whose assets have increased by 1,600 times,” said Raut, adding that he has a list of 120 BJP leaders which are fit cases for the ED to investigate.
Earlier in the day, Aaditya Thackeray, Tourism Minister, said that there is politics in the ED notices coming to state leaders. “Maha Vikas Aghadi is not scared of anything and it is very strong,” said Thackeray.
Meanwhile, Sena office-bearers put up a banner “BJP state office” on a building next to ED office in South Mumbai on Monday afternoon. When the local police reached the spot to remove the banner there was an argument with local Shiv Sainiks, who told the police that removing such banners was not their job and they should instead approach the BMC to remove the banner as it is the civic body’s job. The banner was later taken down by the police.
Senior BJP MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar said, “If Raut or his family has not done anything wrong, there should be no reason for fear. The ED has sought certain information related to financial transactions which Raut and his family should respond.”
Referring to Raut’s threat that if he were to open his mouth, it would shake the Modi government at the Centre, Bhatkhalkar said, “Who has stopped you from speaking. Nobody has shut your mouth. Open your mouth and speak whatever you want. Unfortunately, by issuing such threats the Shiv Sena leader was trying to intimidate the BJP which is ridiculous.”
Former minister and BJP MLA Ashish Shelar said the manner in which Raut has reacted shows he is shaken. “The BJP never believes in harassment to anybody including its political rivals. Nor does it interfere with multiple investigating agencies…”
Senior leader Kirit Somaiya asked why was Raut avoiding questions raised by the ED. He should respond and present his side, he said.
— With inputs from Khushboo Narayan & Shubhangi Khapre
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