Former Union minister and Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar on Wednesday said he would visit the Enforcement Directorate on Friday in connection with a money laundering case filed by the agency against him, PTI reported. He and his nephew Ajit Pawar were booked on Tuesday in connection with the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank scam, just a month before Assembly elections in the state.
The NCP chief told reporters in Mumbai that he was “ready for any hospitality from directorate”, and added that he would provide investigators all the information he had about the case. “Maharashtra follows the ideology of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj,” he added. “We don’t know bowing down before the Delhi takht [throne].”
“I will be mostly out of Mumbai for Assembly poll campaigning,” he said. “The agency officials shouldn’t misunderstand that I am unavailable. I will go to them and give them whatever information they want.” Pawar said he believes in the Constitution.
Earlier in the day, Pawar told ANI that he had no problem with going to jail. “I will be pleased as I have never had this experience,” he said. “If someone plans to send me to jail, I welcome it.”
Meanwhile, five workers of the NCP’s youth wing were detained while protesting outside the Enforcement Directorate’s office in Mumbai, PTI reported. The protestors, led by NCP youth wing’s state unit chief Mehboob Shaikh, shouted slogans against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Shaikh claimed that the police charged the demonstrators with batons.
“The ED filed the case against Pawar given the huge response his campaign rallies have received,” Shaikh claimed. “The ED is being used to stifle voices of the Opposition leaders ahead of the election. Hence, we staged the protest outside the ED office to condemn the action.”
The Pawars are among a group of people accused of causing the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank to lose Rs 25,000 crore between 2007 and 2011. The Enforcement Directorate reported irregularities in the loans given to cooperative sugar factories by bank officials with alleged links to the owners of the factories, according to IANS. Funds were reportedly provided even though the factories had weak financials and negative net worth. Collaterals were allegedly not considered in several cases, and additional facilities were granted without any justification.
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