The Enforcement Directorate has issued a notice to Maharashtra Transport Minister and Shiv Sena leader Anil Parab, asking him to appear before it on August 31, The Indian Express reported on Monday.
The agency’s notice came days after a video clip of Parab surfaced in which he was seen ordering the police to arrest Union minister Narayan Rane for threatening to slap Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
On August 24, the Maharashtra Police arrested Rane for his remarks. Hours later, he was sent to judicial custody, but was released on bail on the same day.
Parab confirmed that he has received the notice from the Enforcement Directorate, but said that it did not mention any particular case.
“The only thing it says is to appear before ED at 11 am on August 31,” The Indian Express quoted the state minister as saying. “...We had anticipated something like this. Now, we will examine it legally and respond to it.”
Parab refused to comment on whether he believed the Centre acted in a vindictive manner.
The minister has been summoned for questioning in a money laundering case that has been filed against former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and others, The Times of India quoted unidentified officials as saying.
The officials reportedly said that Parab has been called for questioning after other accused and those involved in the case against Deshmukh made certain disclosures.
Former Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh had in March accused Deshmukh of extorting money from bars and restaurants in the city, triggering a political row in the state.
In April, dismissed Mumbai Police officer Sachin Waze alleged in a letter that Deshmukh and Parab demanded more than Rs 100 crore from him. Waze is facing proceedings in connection with the explosives found near the home of industrialist Mukesh Ambani, and the subsequent death of businessman Mansukh Hiren.
The Enforcement Directorate’s notice to Parab elicited a sharp reaction from the Shiv Sena. Party MP Sanjay Raut urged people to “understand the chronology” of the events.
“Well done! As expected, Anil Parab has been given a notice by the ED as soon as the Jan Ashirwad Yatra ended...” he said. “The epicentre of the earthquake was Ratnagiri [referring to Rane’s arrest in Ratnagiri district]. Parab is the Guardian Minister of Ratnagiri....We will fight this legal battle by legal means.”
As part of the Jan Ashirwad Yatra, 39 Union ministers, including Rane, travelled to 22 states to highlight various welfare initiatives of the government, according to The Print.
Commenting on the notice to Parab, BJP leader Kirit Somaiyya said that the state minister will have to come clean on Waze’s allegations, as also several other corruption charges.
Parab is also the minister for parliamentary affairs in the Maharashtra government and a member of the Legislative Council. The video clip of Parab telling the police to arrest Rane had caused a political uproar.
“Why are you not arresting him? Why are you not taking him in custody?” Parab was purportedly heard saying in the video. “You will have to do it. Which order they are asking for? There is no need for any such order as the High Court and session court have turned down their plea for bail. Use police force and arrest him.”
The BJP’s Maharashtra unit had alleged that Parab was behind the arrest of Rane. “We demand a CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] inquiry into the arrest and the entire procedure of action,” BJP MLA Ashish Shelar had said.