Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Monday, 1 August, said that he was "proud" of his "old friend" Sanjay Raut, who has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the Patra Chawl land scam case.
Thackeray had also visited Raut's residence earlier in the day and extended support to his family.
"I am proud of Sanjay Raut, he is my old friend. I just met Sanjay Raut's mother, his family, and his two daughters. What was Sanjay's fault?" Thackeray said while speaking to the press.
'Country Moving Towards Dictatorship': Uddhav
The former Maharashtra chief minister slammed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief JP Nadda for saying that only the "BJP will survive," saying that such statements indicate that the country is moving towards a dictatorship.
"We all need to say where the country is going and decide whether we want to let them take it in that direction. Nadda's comments on "only the BJP will survive" show that the country is moving towards dictatorship," the Sena chief said.
He also claimed that only muscle power was being used in the current political scenario, and warned the BJP against trying to use it to destroy political parties.
"In today's politics, only muscle power is being used. They have muscle to use today, but if you are going to use it to destroy other parties, let me tell you that times change," Thackeray asserted.
Praising his "fearless" colleague, Thackeray said that all that Raut was doing was speaking against what he feels is wrong.
"He has given a very good statement saying that he will die but not surrender to the pressure. He could have also surrendered like the other rebels did, the way they have gone for a bath in the hamam (sic)," he said.
Thackeray added that the BJP was arresting anybody who went against them "by hook or by crook," adding that if somebody does not join them out of "greed and temptation, they frame them."
"They want to destroy the regional parties, divide the Hindus, create regional differences and destroy cultural prosperity. They want to do 'Marathi vs non Marathi' politics," he added.
Aaditya Thackeray Slams Raut's Arrest As a 'Political Circus'
Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray also extended support to the Rajya Sabha MP, and said that the entire situation was a "political circus."
Thackeray, who is on a two-day visit to Kolhapur and Konkan, also criticised the MLAs in chief minister Eknath Shinde's camp who were applauding the arrest of Raut, saying that they had "sold themselves."
"They (the rebels) are betrayers, not rebels. For rebellion you need courage," the former Maharashtra minister said.
Sanjay Raut's brother Sunil Raut, meanwhile, expressed faith in the judiciary, and said that the Sena leader will be released soon.
"Sanjay Raut was arrested late night yesterday. His medical checkup was done today and we was produced in court. We have faith in the judiciary. We believe that he will be released soon. The ED (in court) had demanded eight days' custody, but was granted four," he said.
Sanjay Raut's Arrest
An ED team on Sunday, 31 July, had reached Raut's residence in Mumbai's Bhandup area, where they conducted a search, questioned him, and by evening, summoned him for questioning at the ED's zonal office in south Mumbai's Ballard Estate, which went on for over six hours.
Outside the ED's office, Raut had told reporters on Sunday that the "ED will arrest me, but I won't bow down."
He was taken into custody at 12:05 am on Monday under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) as he was not cooperating with the probe, ED officials claimed.
The agency is understood to have questioned the Sena leader about his "business and other links" with Pravin Raut and Patkar and also about the property deals involving his wife.
The team also seized Rs 11.5 lakh in cash during the search, the officials said.
Before entering the ED office, Raut told reporters that the central agency's action was aimed at weakening the Shiv Sena, and so, a "false" case was prepared against him.
In April, the ED provisionally attached assets worth over Rs 11.15 crore belonging to his wife Varsha Raut and two of his associates, as part of this investigation.