‘Law & Order at Stake’: Sharad Pawar Calls Off Visit to ED Office
The NCP chief has been named in a money-laundering case by the ED, in connection with Maharashtra State Coop Bank.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, named in a money-laundering case by the ED in connection with a scam at Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank, on Friday, 27 September, said he won't visit the agency's office "for now", much to the relief of police and common citizens.
‘Law & Order Situation at Stake’
Pawar's decision came after Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve met him at his residence and requested him not to visit the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) office as it may create a law and order situation.
The former Union minister had announced he would go to the ED office at 2 pm, even though the agency has not summoned him yet. He had also appealed to party workers not to gather outside the ED office.
Ahead of Pawar's proposed visit, the police had imposed prohibitory orders outside the ED office in South Mumbai and stepped up security.
“I have cancelled to go there (ED office) as of now. I am ready to go there when required. We work in politics. But if someone tries to scare off us through agency, they will not succeed.”Pawar told reporters at his residence
Pawar thanked political leaders who supported him.
"(Congress leaders) Rahul Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and other senior national leaders and the Shiv Sena, too, supported me, I thank them," he said.
The Maratha strongman questioned the timing of the ED case, which came just weeks ahead of the 21 October assembly polls in Maharashtra.
"Our impression is the decision was taken to malign the image of heads of opposition parties at a particular time (during poll time).
"Hence, I wanted to visit the ED office. I had also conveyed the decision to visit the office in writing. I got a reply to this yesterday. It said I had not been summoned, that I need not visit the office, that I will be informed about visiting the office whenever required," he said.
Rahul Gandhi Questions ‘Timing’ of Action Against Pawar
Gandhi had slammed the Modi government for "targeting" Pawar ahead of the Maharashtra polls.
"Sharad Pawar Ji is the latest Opposition leader to be targeted by a vindictive Government. The timing of this action, a month before elections in Maharashtra, reeks of political opportunism," Gandhi said on Twitter.
ED Case Against Pawar Has Galvanised NCP Ahead of Polls: Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut
The money-laundering case against Pawar has given his dormant party a new lease of life ahead of the next month's Assembly polls in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said.
"I see this development (ED case) from the point of view of the next month's Assembly elections. Those who know Pawar and understand the state politics, will say that for no reason, the investigating agency has made the case political.
"Pawar is a top leader in Maharashtra and the country.
“He has a reputation," Raut told a Marathi news channel in New Delhi.
Uddhav Takes Dig at Sharad Pawar
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday took a veiled dig at rival Sharad Pawar, a day after the NCP chief called off his voluntary visit to the office of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in Mumbai in connection with the state Cooperative Bank (MSCB) scam case.
Addressing Sena workers, Uddhav recalled the arrest of his father and Sena founder late Bal Thackeray in the year 2000 by the then Congress-NCP government, and said Maharashtra doesn't appreciate politics of "revenge and vengeance".
He said nobody had visited the Sena chief requesting him to not go to court so as to prevent any law and order situation.
“My father was not arrested for corruption or any irregularity but he was held for protecting Hindus in Mumbai and Maharashtra during the 1992-93 riots,” Uddhav said.
Recalling the events, the Sena chief said Bal Thackeray went to the court without any fear.
"Nobody came for mediation saying don't go to court to prevent any law and order situation. Balasaheb went to court and asked what was his crime. But, some people wanted to show that they arrested Bal Thackeray. If you feel now the government is indulging in politics of revenge (but I want to ask) who was in power that time...everyone remembers," Uddhav said in an apparent reference to the Congress and the NCP.
Not Shying Away From Probe: Pawar
Party workers had been thronging the megapolis ahead of Pawar's planned visit to the ED office, putting law enforcement personnel on their toes to deal with any law and order problem.
Without naming any party, Pawar said the effort to "scare off" opposition leaders through probe agencies will not succeed.
Pawar said he did not want to give the impression that he was shying away from facing probe.
"I wanted to visit the office in connection with the case regarding the Maharashtra State Cooperative (MSC) Bank, I am ready to offer whatever cooperation needed.”
“But I would be out for campaigning in Maharashtra given the elections have been declared. Hence, I would not be available for probe. But none should mistake this for me not being ready for the probe.”Sharad Pawar, NCP Chief
He said NCP workers were upset over filing of the case against him.
"Mumbai's Commissioner Police and Joint Police Commissioner met me. There is dissent among workers after the case was filed. They were being stopped from coming to the city. The CP said there was a possibility of law and order situation getting disturbed due to this.
"I myself have handled the state's home department in the past. I don't want any of my action to cause inconvenience to common people," the former Maharashtra chief minister said.
The 78-year-old politician denied any wrongdoing and asserted he was not associated with the cooperative bank in any capacity.
"I was not associated with the bank as its member or director. Yet, my name was mentioned in it," he said.
The Baramati baron said he will now tour the rain-battered Pune district.
Section 144 Imposed Outside ED Office in Anticipation of Protests
NCP workers had staged protests in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra when the ED named Pawar in the case earlier this week.
Anticipating similar protests on Friday, orders prohibiting movement of groups of people under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure have been imposed outside the ED office, an official said.
A late Thursday night communication from the police said prohibitory orders were also imposed under the jurisdictions of Colaba, Cuffe Parade, Marine Drive, Dongri, Azad Maidan, JJ Marg and MRA Marg police stations in South Mumbai.
The ED has filed A money-laundering case against Pawar, his nephew Ajit Pawar, a former deputy chief minister, and others in connection with the scam.
An Enforcement Case Information Report, equivalent to a police FIR, has been registered by the central agency under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The case is based on a Mumbai Police FIR which had named former chairman of the bank, Ajit Pawar, and 70 erstwhile functionaries of the cooperative lender.
The NCP termed the ED case politically motivated.
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