The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday summoned veteran Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut's wife Varsha for questioning in connection with the PMC Bank money laundering case on December 29.
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, according to ED officials.
Meanwhile, her husband and senior leader of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition government in Maharashtra, Sanjay Raut, has alleged that central agencies were being used as "weapons" to "destabilise" the Uddhav Thackeray-led government in the state.
Earlier in the day, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh told reporters in Nagpur that whoever speaks against policies or leaders of the BJP is facing action from the central agencies.
He said the use of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for "political purposes" had never happened in Maharashtra.
Another senior NCP leader Praful Patel told reporters that several people are now getting notices from the ED.
Here are all the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leaders who have faced the wrath of the ED this year:
Eknath Khadse (NCP)
Former BJP leader Eknath Khadse on Saturday said the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned him to its Mumbai office on December 30 for questioning in connection with a land deal in Bhosri near Pune.
Khadse, who recently joined the NCP, had stepped down from the then Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra cabinet in 2016 after facing allegations regarding the same land deal.
It was alleged that he misused his official powers to facilitate the purchase of government land by his family.
Khadse, who had received a summons from the ED through email, said that the land deal by his wife and son-in-law had been probed by the state Anti-Corruption Bureau's (ACB) Pune and Nashik units as well as the Income Tax department.
These agencies did not find anything illegal in the deal which was worth Rs 4 crore, he said.
"I cooperated with all agencies and now I will also visit the ED office," he said.
Khadse had been disgruntled for a long time after his resignation, as he claimed that he got a clean chit but the BJP still sidelined him. He quit the party and joined the NCP earlier this year.
Pratap Sarnaik (Shiv Sena) and his son, Vihang
On November 24, the ED launched searches at ten properties of Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik in Mumbai and neighbouring Thane.
After the searches, the ED officials picked up his son, Vihang Sarnaik, from his residence and questioned him in connection with an alleged money laundering case.
Later on December 10, the Shiv Sena MLA himself was questioned by the probe agency, following which Vihang was questioned for a second time, on December 23, at the ED's office at Ballard Estate in south Mumbai.
The agency last month arrested Amit Chandole, an alleged associate of Pratap Sarnaik, and Tops Group Managing Director M Shashidharan under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The case relates to a complaint lodged by Ramesh Iyyer, a former employee of Tops Group.
Iyyer alleged that in 2014, under a contract with the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority for supply of 350 to 500 security guards, the security firm provided only 70 per cent of the agreed number.
Some of the money paid by the MMRDA went to private accounts of the accused, he claimed.
The Shiv Sena had called the raids on the MLA's properties as "political vendetta".
Pratap Sarnaik, 56, represents the Ovala-Maijwada constituency of Thane in the Maharashtra Assembly and is also a spokesperson of his party.
Varsha Raut, the wife of Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena)
On Sunday, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) slapped summons on Varsha Raut, the wife of Shiv Sena Chief Spokesperson Sanjay Raut, in connection with the Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank scam case.
She has been asked to join the investigation on December 29. This is the third summons sent to the Sena leader's wife. She had skipped the earlier two summons citing ill health.
In September last year, the RBI had capped the withdrawal limit and restricted the activities of the PMC Bank after an alleged fraud of Rs 4,355 crore came to light.
The Enforcement Directorate had later seized and identified movable and immovable assets worth more than Rs 3,830 crore owned by Housing Development Infrastructures Ltd (HDIL) in connection with the case.
Last year, the ED had also registered a case against NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, his nephew Ajit Pawar, and others in connection with an alleged money laundering scam at the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank.
The ED's case was based on an FIR registered by the Mumbai police against Ajit Pawar, who is a former chairman of the bank, and 70 of its former officials or office-bearers.
Meanwhile, the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi allies joined forces against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre a day after ED slapped summons on Varsha Raut.
The Nationalist Congress Party and Congress along with Sena leaders slammed the BJP for systematically targetting the Opposition leaders who dared to speak against the party or its policies.
While saying he didn't "care" about such a notice, Raut made it clear that if the ED was doing its work it should be legal, but if illegal, they (ED) should be more careful.
(With inputs and photos from agencies)