ED notice makes MNS more relevant 
than it ever was

Mumbai: Quick to make political capital out of the Enforcement Directorate's notice to party chief Raj Thackeray in a money laundering probe, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena on Monday claimed that the move smacked of "political vendetta" – a charge that was instantly denied by the ruling BJP.

Making it out to be a case of trying to gag the MNS, the party said the BJP was jittery as Raj had become the glue that would hold the Opposition together.

According to sources, the BJP overreach is likely to work to Raj’s political advantage; already, the party is threatening to take to the streets and has called for a bandh on August 22, the day Raj has a date with the ED.

The MNS is likely to project the move as an attempt to extract revenge from Raj who had exposed the "misdeeds" of the BJP in the run-up to Lok Sabha elections.

Thackeray has been summoned to appear before the investigating officer to clarify in a Kohinoor mill land matter – a deal which is very old and which Thackeray had the good sense to exit long back.

The NCP, which had warmed up to the MNS before the general election, too will find the ED notice a handy stick to beat the BJP with. "Speak out against us and you get an ED notice. What kind of dirty politics is being played?" asked Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhan-anjay Munde.

However, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis seems to be quite confident that he is on a good footing.

"The ED works independently and we have nothing to do with the notices to Raj. If nothing wrong has been done, then there is no need for Raj to be afraid," Fadnavis said, speaking to reporters at his official residence.

The Shiv Sena response was just to the contrary and Sanjay Raut said he found "nothing unusual" in the ED move against Thackeray.

Meanwhile, the ED on Monday grilled Umesh, the son of former Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi, in the money laundering case in which Raj too has got summons. Raj was his former business partner in realty firm Kohinoor CTNL.

Manohar Joshi, a senior leader of ruling NDA ally Shiv Sena and former Maharashtra Chief Minister, wondered if the ED notice arose out of some "confusion". He also hinted at meeting the CM over the issue.

State Congress President Balasaheb Thorat said: "This is nothing but bulldozing tactics by the BJP government against the Opposition. Thackeray had raised several pertinent issues before the Lok Sabha elections and is now being targeted."

Instead of tackling burning issues like inflation, unemployment, the economic crisis and farmers' problems, the government was adopting "dictatorial tactics" to silence its critics, he added.

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