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Tuesday 28 January 2020

Pawar ditches ED, says ‘not involved in bank scam’

After his wish, ED's refusal and his insistence on appearing today ignoring the absence of a notice, Pawar finally did not turn up to answer questions on the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank scam

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar did not turn up at the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office today. He had earlier decided to visit the ED office on 27 September (today) to answer questions on the cooperative bank scam in Maharashtra.

However, Pawar had not been served a notice of appearance by the ED. Pawar had insisted nevertheless that he would go to the ED office and present his case against the FIR in the bank scam. The ED said thereafter that he would not be allowed to come to their office just like that. The ED sent an email to Pawar stating that he should not come to the ED office today, but Pawar remained adamant about going to the ED office.

Meanwhile, Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve met Pawar at his house and appealed to him not to go to the ED office. Pawar said that all the opposition parties were with him and that he had nothing to do with the bank scam. He said, “I do not want the law-and-order situation to deteriorate; so, I decided not to go to the ED office.”

Prior to Pawar’s appearance, his supporters and party workers staged a protest outside the ED office. Seeing the possibility of a riot-like scenario unfolding, Pawar appealed to his supporters to not gather in front of the ED office. His own appeal notwithstanding, Section 144 was imposed in the vicinity of the Ballard Estate where the ED office is located.

Pawar got support from Shiv Sena

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, “Pawar is Bhishma Pitamah of politics. This is wrong. Maharashtra has never seen politics of revenge before. Pawar has done a lot of work in Maharashtra, especially for agriculture. Our ideology is different from Pawar’s, but I would say that the ED has not been fair to him. The scam was discussed in the Legislative Assembly and he was not named then. Is ED bigger than God today? God can forgive, but not the ED?”

‘Pawar targeted’

Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “Sharad Pawar Ji is the latest Opposition leader to be targeted by a vindictive government. The timing of this action, a month before elections in Maharashtra, reeks of political opportunism.”

NCP workers protest

In Kolhapur, Baramati and Hingoli, NCP workers held demonstrations and enacted a dance show on a road in protest of the ED action. Most of the markets in Baramati remained closed. Some NCP activists reached the ED office to protest, defying their leader’s appeal.

Anna: ‘Pawar’s name did not figure in my findings’

After Pawar was named in the bank scam, social worker Anna Hazare gave him a clean chit, betraying the long-held notion in the political circles of Maharashtra that his ‘crusade’ against corruption was actually foisted by the Vilasrao Deshmukh faction of the then Congress-NCP government, which had eventually shot him to fame on the national scene in 2011. Anna said on Thursday, “Pawar’s name was not mentioned in the evidence I had.”

Anna said further that he did not know on what basis the ED has taken Pawar’s name. “However, the case should be investigated and appropriate action should be taken against those who are guilty,” Anna said.

The scam

Apart from NCP leader and Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit, party leader Hassan Mushrif, Congress leader Madhukar Chavan and senior officials of branches of different bank districts are named in the case. The complaint is that between 2007 and 2011, the bank incurred a loss of about Rs 1,000 crore.

A report filed by NABARD and the Maharashtra Cooperatives Department regarding the case blamed Ajit Pawar and other directors of the bank for the losses suffered by the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank.

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