The Shiv Sena on Friday said the income tax raids on actor Sonu Sood’s premises showed the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled central government’s narrow-mindedness.
An editorial in the party’s mouthpiece Saamana said that the Bharatiya Janata Party had earlier praised the actor’s humanitarian work during the Covid-19 crisis. But the party claimed that as soon as the Delhi and Punjab governments collaborated with the actor, Sood became a tax evader.
Tax officials had first raided Sood’s premises in Mumbai on Wednesday in connection with a land deal between his firm and a Lucknow-based real estate company. On Friday, tax officials were at the actor’s home for the third straight day, according to NDTV.
During an event in August, Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal had named Sood as a brand ambassador of his government’s mentorship programme for school students. In April, the Punjab government had named him as the brand ambassador of its Covid-19 vaccination programme.
Sood has received widespread praise for his charity work during the coronavirus pandemic. He had organised special flights and buses for migrants stranded due to the countrywide lockdown in April-May last year.
The actor had also arranged for oxygen for patients suffering during the second wave of the pandemic in May this year.
The Saamana editorial on Friday said that Sood’s relief efforts had earned him popularity. The Shiv Sena also pointed out that BJP leaders had also attended events associated with the actor.
“It was emphatically claimed that Sonu’s great humanitarian work was inspired by the BJP’s traditions,” the Shiv Sena said. “But as soon as the Delhi and Punjab government tried to join hands with him, he was declared a tax evader.”
The Shiv Sena alleged that it had become a policy of the BJP-led government to deploy central agencies against those who are not associated with the party.
“This policy did not spare ministers of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, and it has not spared artists and social workers like Sood,” the Saamna editorial said.
The Shiv Sena was referring to the corruption allegations against Maha Vikas Aghadi leaders Anil Deshmukh, Anil Parab and Pratap Sarnaik.
The Saamana editorial said that the BJP had the largest number of members in the world. “A large political party must also have a large heart,” it said.
The Sena said that filing false cases against Maharashtra ministers and conducting raids against people like Sood also showed foul play by the BJP. “This foul play will certainly boomerang one day,” the party said in its editorial.
Other Opposition parties have also condemned the Centre for conducting the raids on Sood’s properties.
On Thursday, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said that the raids against Sood and human rights activist Harsh Mander were an attempt to intimidate as that “is all that the government knows”.
The Enforcement Directorate raided Mander’s premises on Thursday, including his home in Vasant Kunj area, his office in the Centre for Equity Studies at the city’s Sarvodaya Enclave locality, and Umeed, a children’s home that his organisation runs in the Mehrauli neighbourhood.
On Wednesday, Kejriwal also condemned the raids on Sood, saying that the prayers of lakhs of families who got help due to the actor were with him. “There are millions of difficulties on the path of truth, but the truth always wins,” he had said.