MUMBAI: NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday displayed his fighting spirit and announced that he himself would visit the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office and won’t deter from facing the probe in the money laundering case related to the Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank (MSCB) scam.
While Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured fair treatment to all in the case, senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse came forward to Pawar’s help by saying that Pawar was never involved in the scam.
Pawar, who had earlier outright refuted all the charges levelled against him in the case terming that the ED action as “politically motivated”, told the media today that he won’t bow down before the “Delhi Powers” but would co-operate with the agency in the probe.
"I will be mostly out of Mumbai for assembly poll campaigning. The agency officials shouldn’t misunderstand that I am unavailable. I will go to them and give them whatever information they want," Pawar said at the media conference.
He also added that he will visit the ED office at 2 pm on September 27, “to submit ‘whatever information’ sought in connection with the MSC Bank scam”.
"I believe in the Constitution," he said. Incidentally, the nomination filing process for the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly election also starts on 27 September.
The Maratha strongman also said that Maharashtra follows the ideology of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and added, "We don’t know to bow down before the Delhi takht (throne)".
Pawar, who addressed the media here, questioned the timing of the ED move, that came days before the October 21 Maharashtra assembly elections. "If someone plans to put me in jail, I welcome it. However, I’ve not received any summons from the ED," he said.
He also stated that he was never a member of MSC Bank nor was part of its decision-making process while the scam took place.
The ED on Tuesday filed a money laundering case against Pawar, his nephew Ajit along with 70 others in connection with the MSC bank scam.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, the youth wing of the NCP protested outside the ED office in Mumbai. Police had to resort to cane charge to disperse them. There was an impromptu bandh in Baramati in Pune district, the bastion of the Pawar family. This is for the first time Pawar has been named in a criminal case.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis claimed that stated that the state government has no role to play in the ED case filed against Pawar.
"The ED is not under the state government. So it would be wrong to say that the state government acted against Pawar out of vengeance. It is neither a purposeful action by the state government nor politically motivated one. Whenever there is a crime involving more than Rs 100 crore, ED has to take cognizance. Those guilty will be punished. I can only assure a fair treatment for all," Fadnavis said.
Meanwhile, former minister in Fadnavis government and senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse today said that Pawar has no role to play in the scam.
"As a leader of opposition, I’ve followed the entire scam and even raised voice over it in the assembly from time to time. However, I never realised that Pawar has any role to play in it. I wonder how his names has cropped up now," Khadse said.