Mumbai: Amid ongoing probe against former ministers Anil Deshmukh & Eknath Khadse and Shiv Sena leaders Pratap Sarnaik, Anil Parab and Bhavana Gawali, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday claimed that the Enforcement Directorate's actions against these leaders were an attempt to encroach on the state government's rights and discourage political opponents.
"Never heard of so many ED actions in Maharashtra in the past. One action is going on against Khadse, another against Anil Deshmukh, also against Bhavana Gawali. There is an attempt to encroach upon the state government's rights case and discourage the opponents by using these agencies as tools."
On the ED’s raids at premises linked to Bhavana Gawali, Pawar said the issue is about educational institutions. "When there are allegations against these kinds of institutions, the complaints can be lodged before the charity commissioner. If not the charity commissioner, then there are state government agencies, but here directly the ED was involved," he added.
The ED is conducting a probe into separate money laundering cases against Deshmukh and Khadse. The central agency last week conducted raids at multiple premises in Maharashtra linked to Bhavana Gawali in connection with a money laundering case.
To a question on Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat's comments that Hindus and Muslims share the same ancestry, Pawar quipped, "This is an addition to my knowledge."
On the amendments to the Banking Regulation Act passed last year, Pawar said it was an attempt to end urban cooperative banking which will be strongly opposed. He expressed reservations over the Reserve Bank of India's interference in the cooperative sector.
"The cooperative lenders spread the banking sector to the grass-root level. These banks help many people in case of financial needs. The merger and closure of cooperative banks is not only harmful for the cooperative sector, but also for the common people who have been benefiting from it," he said.
Pawar said earlier there was greater autonomy to select a cooperative bank's chairman, now these institutions will have to go to the RBI for it. ‘’This has weakened the cooperative sector," he added.
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