Amid probe against Sanjay Raut's wife, 'BJP state office' posters surface at ED office

Amid probe against Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut's wife in alleged PMC Bank scam case, posters of 'BJP state office' surface outside ED office on Monday, allegedly by Shiv Sena workers.

Earlier, launching a veiled attack on the Centre after the ED summoned his wife, Raut on Monday alleged Central agencies were being used to "destabilise" the Uddhav Thackeray-led government in Maharashtra and claimed BJP leaders had been in touch with him for over a year to effect this plan.

Speaking to reporters, he alleged that Central agencies were being used as "weapons" against family members of (BJP's) political opponents who cannot be won over.

Raut said BJP leaders had a list of 22 MLAs of the Congress and the NCP with them "who will be made to resign under the pressure of the Central investigating agencies".

Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress are constituents of the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, which was formed in November 2019 after the Sena and the BJP fell out over sharing the post of chief minister following the Assembly elections.

"Some BJP leaders have been contacting me since the last one year, saying they have made all the arrangements to destabilise the Maharashtra government. They have been pressurising and threatening me not to support the government.

"They told me that they have a list of 22 MLAs of Congress and NCP who will be forced to resign under the pressure of Central investigating agencies," Raut said.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) summoned Varsha Raut for questioning in the PMC Bank money laundering case on December 29, officials had said on Sunday.

The officials had said that Varsha Raut has been asked to appear before the federal agency in Mumbai. This is the third summons issued to her after she skipped the earlier two on health grounds, they said.

"I will hold discussions with NCP president Sharad Pawar too," Raut said when asked if his wife will appear before the ED in response to the summons issued against her.

Raut said he was a Shiv Sainik of Balasaheb Thackeray, and will "expose" BJP leaders.

"They will have to take flights out of the country like Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallaya," he said.

Raut claimed he had a list of "120 BJP leaders who are fit case for a probe by the ED for money laundering".

Saying his wife is a teacher, Raut said unlike leaders of the BJP, "our income has not grown by Rs 1,600 crore".

"This politics is played out of frustration when you cannot fight your political opponents face to face. Shiv sena will respond to this in an equal measure," Raut said.

The Sena MP said he had been doing regular correspondence with the federal agency for the last one-and- a-half months regarding a Rs 50 lakh loan taken by his wife ten years ago from a friend to purchase a house.

He said all the details regarding this loan had already been submitted to the ED during the correspondence.

"We are middle class people. My wife had taken a loan from a friend 10 years ago to purchase a house. Details have been given to the Income Tax (department) and also mentioned in my Raya Sabhaaffidavit. The ED woke up to this deal after ten years," he wondered.

"When the ED itself did not mention that the correspondence was regarding the PMC Bank scam case and HDIL, then how can BJP leaders say so?" he asked.

Raut also suggested that some BJP leaders speaking against him since December 27 used to frequent the ED office (in south Mumbai) and "have taken away some papers from the office".

He declined to give any names.

"I was told that 22 MLAs of the Congress and the NCP are on the radar of Central agencies who will be taken in and forced to resign. Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik (who is under the ED scanner in connection with a money laundering case registered against a firm) is just one such example.

"When nothing envisaged by the BJP happened till November, which was deadline set by the BJP for itself to topple the state government, children and wives of those who were associated with the formation of the MVA government are being targeted," he claimed.

He said there was no threat to the state government.

"You send a notice or arrest us, the government will remain stable," he added.

He said Chief Minister and Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had told him that the party wasn't scared and will fight such tactics from the forefront.

"But we will not involve family members (of political opponents). he added.

Earlier in the day, state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh told reporters in Nagpur that whoever speaks against policies or leaders of the BJP is facing action from Central agencies.

He said the use of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for "political purposes" had never happened in Maharashtra.

"Anybody who speaks against policies or leaders of the BJP faces the ED or the CBI. As far as the Central Bureau of Investigation is concerned, we had taken a decision that any probe by that agency in Maharashtra cannot be pursued without the permission of the state government," Deshmukh said.

Another senior NCP leader Praful Patel told reporters that several people are now getting notices from the ED.

"....The reason (behind getting such notices) may be political or may be something else...Whatever it my be the facts will stand out. I don't want to derive any other meaning out of this action," he said.

Yuva Sena president and state minister Aaditya Thackeray has termed the ED action "politically motivated".

"The ED move is politically motivated. We are not scared. The MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi) government is stable," Aaditya, son of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, told reporters when asked about the ED summons.

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