The Income Tax Department on Tuesday conducted raids in Mumbai and Pune at offices and homes of three aides of Maharashtra ministers Aaditya Thackeray and Anil Parab, reported ANI.

The tax officials have not identified the people on whom the raids were conducted. However, according to India Today, premises linked to Rahul Kanal, an aide of Aaditya Thackeray, Sadanand Kadam, who is Parab’s business partner, and Bajrang Kharmate, also reportedly close to Parab had been raided.

When asked to respond on the raids, Thackeray told reporters that central agencies have become the “publicity machinery” of the Bharatiya Janata Party and they have been misused in the past as well.

“…It happened in Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and now it is happening in Maharashtra too,” he said, according to ANI.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut linked the raids to the upcoming civic elections in Maharashtra. “Till the BMC [Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation] elections are not held, every ward of Mumbai will be raided,” Raut said, according to NDTV.

Raut also said that the Mumbai Police would investigate a “criminal syndicate and extortion racket”, which he claimed is run by a nexus of Enforcement Directorate officials, reported ANI.

“Mark my words, some of these ED officers will go to jail too,” Raut said, according to ANI.

The ruling coalition of the Maha Vikas Aghadi in Maharashtra has long been accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled central government of targeting its leaders.

Maharashtra Minister and senior Nationalist Congress Party leader Nawab Malik was arrested on February 23 in connection with an alleged money-laundering case involving fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim and his aides.

On February 15, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut had alleged that the Centre was trying to topple the Maharashtra government by using central agencies to target its leaders. A week before that, Raut had alleged that he had been threatened with jail time on money- laundering charges for refusing to help “certain people” topple the Maharashtra government.