Sharad Pawar to visit ED's office: Rahul Gandhi accuses BJP of 'political opportunism' ahead of Maharashtra polls; Shiv Sena backs NCP chief

Congress came out in support of Nationalist Congress Party's (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar who is due to visit Enforcement Directorate office 'voluntarily' in connection with a scam at Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank. Rahul Gandhi slammed the BJP-led Centre of 'political opportunism', ahead of 21 October Maharashtra Assembly elections

FP Staff September 27, 2019 11:59:25 IST
Sharad Pawar to visit ED's office: Rahul Gandhi accuses BJP of 'political opportunism' ahead of Maharashtra polls; Shiv Sena backs NCP chief
  • Congress came out in support of Nationalist Congress Party's (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar who is due to visit Enforcement Directorate office on Friday. Rahul Gandhi slammed the BJP-led Centre of 'political opportunism', ahead of 21 October Maharashtra Assembly elections

  • Even the Shiv Sena extended it supports to Pawar, with party leader Sanjay Raut saying, 'The people of Maharashta believe Pawar is innocent'. He further went on to allege that the allegations levied against Pawar are 'baseless'.

  • The Mumbai Police have imposed prohibitory orders outside the Enforcement Directorate's office at Ballard Estate and in other areas of south Mumbai in view of NCP chief Sharad Pawar's planned visit on Friday

Congress came out in support of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar who is due to visit Enforcement Directorate office 'voluntarily' in connection with a scam relating to Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank. Rahul Gandhi slammed the BJP-led Centre of 'political opportunism', ahead of 21 October Maharashtra Assembly elections.

"In the BJP's [Bharatiya Janata Party] five-year rule, all those leaders who raised their voices have been hounded by the central agencies," Rajeev Satav, party's election in-charge for Maharashtra's Marathwada region, told India Today.

The former MP from Hingoli in Maharashtra claimed that Pawar was not a member of the cooperative bank being investigated, neither was he a director and yet the ED filed an FIR against him.

Even the Shiv Sena extended it supports to Pawar, with party leader Sanjay Raut saying, "The people of Maharashtra believe Pawar is innocent". He further went on to allege that the allegations levied against Pawar are "baseless".

Social activist Anna Hazare has also expressed surprise over Pawar's naming cropping up in the multi-crore Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank scam.

The Mumbai Police have imposed prohibitory orders outside the Enforcement Directorate's office at Ballard Estate and in other areas of south Mumbai in view of NCP chief Sharad Pawar's planned visit on Friday.

Pawar, who was named in a money laundering case by the ED in connection with a scam at Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank, said he will visit the ED office, even though it has not summoned him yet. The registration of the case against Pawar had drawn angry reactions from the NCP whose workers staged protests in Mumbai, Aurangabad, Solapur, Beed, Thane, Nashik and his home turf Baramati in Pune district, among other parts of the state.

Anticipating similar protests on Friday, orders prohibiting movement of groups of people under section 144 have been imposed outside the ED office, a police official said on Thursday night.

ED has sought additional police security at its Mumbai zonal office in Ballard Estate in view of Pawar's visit.

According to CNN-New18, some NCP party leaders have still taken to the streets, sloganeering, expressing their support to their chief, even after Section 144 had been imposed in the area. They have reached the party office, which is just a lane away from the ED's office. Law and order currently is under control as security has been increased in the area.

NCP leader, Jayant Patil has come out in support of Pawar, stating that the chief has been pulled up by the ED for no reason. He claims that Pawar has no association with any bank. He said, "Many people from the state have come to Mumbai to show their support but we have told them there is no need for creating a ruckus or any kind of violence."

Another party leader, Nawab Malik, has slammed the BJP, saying "Police is detaining NCP workers in Mumbai and in other parts of the state. This is not right. He accused the BJP government of 'misusing' the ED.

Many police personnel have been deployed outside's Pawar's residence.

Some key routes in the area like SS Ram Ghulam Road, Karimbhoy Road and J N Hardiya Road have been closed for traffic, an official said. However, vehicles of VIPs and emergency services will
be allowed on these roads, he said, adding parking has been prohibited in the area for the day.

All precautionary measures have been taken to maintain law and order and avoid any untoward incident, the official said.

The NCPs state office is situated near the ED premises and there is a possibility that a large number of party supporters may gather in the area, he said.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra NCP chief Jayant Patil and party general secretary Jitendra Awhad reached Pawar's residence here ahead of the veteran leader's visit to the ED office later in the day.

ED officials, meanwhile have said that the decision to question any person or accused in a case is the prerogative of the "investigating officer" and such a decision is taken when there are reasons to do so.

Pawar has not been summoned yet, they said, adding the Maratha strongman will be called for questioning and recording of a statement "whenever it is required". Asked about it, Malik said, "Pawar Saheb will go ahead with the decision to visit the office. We are not afraid. Instead of them (the ED) calling us, we will visit it."

The NCP patriarch has already said he would "voluntarily" visit the ED office and co-operate with the probe agency given his faith in the Constitution. The former Union minister, however, has also asserted he would not bow before the 'throne' of Delhi, apparently referring to the BJP-led government at the Centre.

The veteran leader has been maintaining he was not associated with the bank in any capacity and questioned the timing of the registration of the case which comes just weeks ahead of the 21 October Assembly polls in Maharashtra.

The ED has filed a money laundering case against Pawar, his nephew Ajit Pawar, a former deputy chief minister, and others in connection with the scam. An Enforcement Case Information Report, equivalent to a police FIR, has been registered by the central agency under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The case is based on a Mumbai Police FIR which had named former chairmen of the bank, Ajit Pawar, an ex-deputy chief minister of the state, and 70 erstwhile functionaries of the cooperative lender.

The NCP has termed the ED case as politically motivated.

With inputs from agencies

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