Coming out in defence of rival NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena’s parliamentary party leader Sanjay Raut, a BJP ally, Friday questioned the alleged money-laundering case against “a senior leader with a certain standing”, and said it has only given fresh lease of life to the NCP on the eve of the assembly elections in Maharashtra.
Raut said the Enforcement Directorate (ED) case against Pawar is generating sympathy for him and galvanising the cadre of a party on the decline. The case, he said, had acquired political colour, and those familiar with Pawar’s capabilities and the politics of Maharashtra can figure how the matter is going to play out.
“I would say, for no reason, the investigating agency has made the case political,” Raut said.
The ED booked Pawar, his nephew Ajit Pawar, and several other state leaders in connection with an alleged scam in the Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank (MSCB).
Pawar’s name, he said, did not find mention in the complaint on which the Bombay High Court had acted. Just because some of his aides were involved, he was being called the kingpin, Raut said, adding that as far as co-operative banks go, members of all parties have association.
Raut said the Shiv Sena has rivalry with Pawar and his party: “Since the time of Balasaheb Thackeray, we have been criticising him, contesting elections against him, sometimes winning, sometimes losing. However, in Maharashtra’s political culture, whenever anything wrong happens, we stand by one another. When (MNS chief) Raj Thackeray was questioned by the ED (in another alleged money-laundering case), Uddhavji (Thackeray) came out in his support.”
He said even Anna Hazare, who has taken on Pawar several times in the past, has stated that Pawar had no role in the bank scam.