Mumbai: A day after resigning as legislator, leader of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar informed, he had stepped down as the party chief, Sharad Pawar, had been defamed because of him.
“I resigned because at this age, Sharad Pawar had to face such humiliation from the probe agencies only because we are related and I was on the board of the bank,” said an emotional Ajit, addressing a press conference on Saturday.
“I apologise for hurting the sentiments of party workers and putting our party in a spot on the eve of assembly elections,” he added.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has booked Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar, along with 70 other officials, alleging a Rs 25,000-crore scam in the Maharashtra Cooperative Bank (MCB) between 2007-2011.
“Sharad Pawar has no involvement in the scam, he was not even a member of the board. The investigating officers informed the court that there was not enough material to register an FIR. Despite this, the ED went ahead and lodged the complaint,” asserted Ajit.
The NCP chief was supposed to visit the ED office at Ballard Pier on Friday. As workers and leaders of the party turned up in large numbers to show support for their 'saheb', senior officials of Mumbai Police visited Pawar’s residence twice, requesting him not to go there, as he had earlier announced.
“I was not present with Sharad Pawar on Friday because my constituency has been affected in the floods. However, when I visited him this morning, he insisted I should hold a press conference,” informed Ajit. He said he has utmost respect for his uncle, who is the head of their family.
Refuting the allegations, Ajit further pointed out, "The MCB is an apex bank, which provides financial aid at minimum interest rates, to sugar mills and farmers. The bank has deposits worth only Rs 11,500 crore, while the amount of default is alleged to be Rs 25,000 crore."
Questioning the timing of the ED notice, Ajit observed, “The timing of the FIR speaks a lot. A matter from 2010 is being probed in 2019, that too when elections are round the corner.”
The NCP leader's resignation left NCP workers shocked. He also told reporters, he had asked his son Parth to stay away from politics. Parth had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Lok Sabha election from Maval.