At a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party is issuing new deadlines for the collapse of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, Deputy Chief Minister and NCP veteran Ajit Pawar has received major relief in the alleged Rs 25,000 crore scam involving the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB). The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police has given a clean chit to Pawar and 69 others who were booked under sections 420, 506, 409, 465 and 467 of the IPC. It has submitted a closure report to the court.
The probe was launched during the tenure of the previous BJP-led government. During the probe, the EOW examined multiple documents and audit reports. More than 100 people were also questioned but no evidence could be found in this regard.
The EOW’s clean chit comes at a time when Ajit Pawar, who returned to the NCP fold 78 hours after taking oath as DCM by joining hands with the BJP in November 2019, had been under his party radar. Even after the MVA has come to power, a section of the NCP and other ruling partners Shiv Sena and Congress continue to have apprehensions about Ajit Pawar’s gameplan.
Now, however, the EOW’s move to not hold further inquiry will certainly help Ajit Pawar to secure his grip over the NCP and the government. It will come in handy for him to let his critics know that he is not about to take any step to destabilise the MVA government and thereby help the BJP topple it.
Pawar and others, including former deputy chief minister Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil, rural development minister Hassan Mushrif, former Shiv Sena MP Anandrao Adsul, who were directors on the MSCB board of directors, were alleged to have sanctioned loans worth Rs 25,000 crore, which were later disbursed illegally. Thereafter, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development had carried out an audit exposing multiple irregularities.
Subsequently, the RBI dissolved the board of directors of the MSCB in May 2011 and appointed administrators. Ajit Pawar has repeatedly defended himself, saying that there was no wrongdoing in the disbursement of loans.
He had resigned as a legislator after his name and that of his uncle and NCP chief Sharad Pawar were dragged into the alleged MSCB money laundering case by the Enforcement Directorate. With tears in his eyes, he had said, “I have emotions. How can they keep levelling absurd allegations against me?” However, after his uncle’s intervention he had withdrawn his resignation and was re-elected from his home turf Baramati in the assembly elections last year.