Mumbai: With the Enforcement Directorate’s move to provisionally attach the immovable properties belonging to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s brother-in-law Shridhar Madhav Patankar on Tuesday, the BJP has sent a strong signal to CM – ‘Yeh to sirf trailer hai, picture abhi baaki hai’.
The party, which has been issuing new deadlines for the collapse of the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, has also indicated that it will dig up corruption cases not just of MVA ministers and leaders, but also those linked to Thackeray and his family.
Tuesday’s action came ahead of the upcoming elections to the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation, as the BJP has already launched Mission 2022 to defeat the Shiv Sena, alleging corruption to the tune of more than Rs 3 lakh crore in the saffron party-controlled civic body over the last 25 years.
Further, the ED action also comes in the wake of the Prime Minister slamming the Opposition parties and their ‘ecosystem’ for the ‘conspiracy’ to stop action against the corrupt and said that the parties were shielding the corrupt by “defaming independent investigating agencies”.
The ED action was also a hint to Thackeray, who had parted ways with the BJP and allied with the NCP and Congress to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi after assembly elections in 2019, that any efforts to cover up corruption would boomerang on him and the three ruling partners. This is yet another attempt by BJP to project its policy for zero tolerance towards corruption while creating the perception that the MVA is a federation of corrupt and scam-tainted parties. The timing of the ED action is significant, as the MVA government has launched a tit-for-tat policy, whereby state agencies including the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Economic Offences Wing and the Criminal Investigation Department have launched actions against key BJP leaders, especially as several MVA leaders are on the radar of Central probe agencies.
Already, two MVA ministers including former home minister Anil Deshmukh and Minister without portfolio Nawab Malik are in jail in money laundering cases, while Transport Minister Anil Parab, Shiv Sena leaders Pratap Sarnaik and Ravindra Waikar are under the ED scanner.
Thackeray, his son Aaditya and wife Rashmi had no reaction to the ED move on Tuesday. However, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar claimed that Central agencies were being misused for political ends. “Till a few years ago, most people did not know about the ED, but today, it’s being misused so much that even people in villages know about it,” he said.
Further, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut attacked the ED saying that the law enforcement agency was only taking action in states where the BJP was not in power.
“Shridhar Madhav Patankar is a member of our family, his relations are not limited just to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray. The ED has been taking tremendous action in states where the BJP is not in power,” said Raut. It seemed as if the ED had closed its offices in other big states including the BJP-ruled Gujarat, he taunted.
“Everything is happening in Maharashtra. Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee is also being harassed. But neither will Bengal bow, nor Maharashtra break,” he said.
Raut lashed out at the BJP, saying that the people of Maharashtra knew the Thackeray family. “This is the dangerous start of a dictatorship. Winning in four states doesn’t make you the ruler of the country. We’re ready to go to jail but we’re also ready to fight for the freedom of this country’s democracy,” he declared.
State Congress chief Nana Patole also slammed the BJP for the misuse of Central probe agencies against its opponents. He clarified that the MVA government was strong and stable and the ED action on Tuesday would not impact its survival.