The ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra on Tuesday accused the Centre of using central agencies to arm-twist political opponents, in the wake of searches by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on premises linked to Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik and the subsequent arrest of his son Vihang in connection with a money laundering case. The BJP, on the other hand, responded saying the central agencies would not take such action without concrete evidence and put their credibility at stake.
“The ED action is objectionable and unfortunate. The BJP at the Centre is trying to muzzle voices of those speaking out against it. The ED, Central Bureau of Investigation are being used to settle political scores,” said state Congress president Balasaheb Thorat, who is also the revenue minister in the Uddhav Thackeray-led coalition government. “Such action is not seen in BJP-ruled states,” Thorat added.
Chaggan Bhujbal of the NCP, another senior minister in the state government, also slammed the raids accusing the ED of being the “Centre’s puppet”. Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant accused the BJP of using “dirty politics” to target opponents. “We haven’t come across raids against BJP leaders in the last six years,” he said.
Taking a dig at Union Minister Raosaheb Danve’s claim that the MVA government will fall in two to three months, Thorat said, “This is nothing but a daytime dream. They (the BJP) can continue dreaming. The MVA has completed a year in government, it will complete the full five-year term.”
Accusing the Centre of treating Maharashtra in an indifferent manner, Thorat said it was two months since the state submitted a memorandum for Rs 10,000 crore for losses suffered due to unseasonal rain and floods. “Let alone lending help, the Centre is yet to send a team to assess the loss,” he said, while also pointing to the pending GST (Goods and Services Tax) compensation dues.
Pointing out that the BJP was adopting coercive tactics to get Sena MLAs on its side to dislodge the government, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, “The BJP has started dirty politics. But we will end this game. We will remain in power for the next 25 years,” adding that the BJP was misusing central agencies such as the ED to harass Sena MLAs, and that such tactics would not work.
Sena leaders have amassed enormous wealth: Nirupam
In an embarrassment for the MVA, Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam chose not to toe the party’s line over the issue. Reacting to the ED searches, he said, “No raid should be politically motivated. But the fact is that Shiv Sena leaders have gathered enormous properties through corrupt means. Such cases must be investigated generally. The truth will only come out after an investigation,” he said, adding that he did not particularly know about the Sarnaik’s case.
Central agencies won’t take action without evidence: Fadnavis
Also responding to the ED searches, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Devendra Fadnavis said the central agency would not take such action without concrete evidence. Speaking to the media at Solapur, he said, “I am not aware of all the details. But I firmly believe if the ED takes action, it must have some concrete proof… If one has not done anything wrong, there is nothing to fear.”
He also added that agencies such as CBI and ED were autonomous, and had their own mechanism to conduct probes.
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