June 20, 2021 11:24:05 pm
Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik, who is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with an alleged Rs 175-crore money laundering case, has written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray requesting him to patch up with the BJP to save Sena leaders from being harassed by central agencies.
The Ovala-Majiwada legislator also took a swipe at the Congress and the NCP, which are constituents of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi of which the Sena is a member, and has accused the two parties of working against the interests of Sena.
“In spite of being in an alliance with us, the Congress and NCP are weaning away our workers and weakening the Shiv Sena. In my personal opinion, it is imperative that we patch up with Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A lot of our supporters feel that by doing so the harassment that Pratap Sarnaik, Anil Parab and Ravindra Waikar are facing will stop,” Sarnaik stated in the letter dated June 9 to Thackeray.
Maharashtra Transport Minister Anil Parab, who is a close associate of Thackeray, too, is facing graft allegations, while Sena MLA Ravindra Waikar is accused of not disclosing in his election affidavit the details of some property, which he allegedly purchased at Alibaug.
Over the last three months, Sarnaik has been summoned thrice by the ED that has asked him to present himself before the investigating officer probing the money laundering case related to the alleged cheating of Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) by Topsgrup Services and Solutions Limited. The ED had last year questioned Sarnaik, his sons Vihang and Purvesh, and brother-in-law Yogesh Chandegala in connection with the case.
Sarnaik claimed the central agencies were unnecessarily harassing them. He said that he has been fighting a legal battle over the last seven months even when he had no support from the state government.
“Next year there are municipal corporation elections in Mumbai, Thane and other areas. Even if we have broken off relations with the BJP, we still have a cordial relationship with BJP leaders… Before this bond breaks too, we need to patch up with them. Doing so will help not only party workers like me but also help the party in the future,” Sarnaik wrote in the letter.
Accusing the Congress and the NCP of working against the interest of the Sena, Sarnaik said there were doubts in the minds of the party cadre over whether the MVA alliance was formed to weaken the Sena and facilitate the growth of the Congress and NCP. “The Congress has taken a stand to contest alone. The NCP seems to be more keen on weaning away the Sena cadre and leaders to its side. Some ministers in the MVA have joined hands with the ruling party in the Centre behind your back to ensure that they are not harassed by central agencies,” Sarnaik said.
The Sena was circumspect over commenting on the letter with party MP and chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut stating that the accusations of harassment by central agencies were a serious issue. “A letter has been written. There is nothing more that I have to say about it. The letter speaks about harassment being meted out by central agencies. If he has written a letter because of this harassment then everyone needs to take cognizance of why this is happening,” Raut said.
Reacting to Sarnaik’s letter, BJP’s state president Chandrakant Patil, meanwhile, said the BJP leadership will give it a thought if Thackeray considers it. “Pratap Sarnaik is a Shiv Sena leader and MLA. He has written a letter to his party chief, calling for an alliance with the BJP, which will think about it if Uddhav Thackeray also thinks on the same line,” Patil, who was in Pune on Sunday, said.
Another BJP leader Kirit Somaiya, however, said Sarnaik was fearing that he may have to go to jail. “That is why he has written the letter. He has committed corruption and he will soon go to jail,” he added.
With inputs from Manoj More, Pune
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