The wife of Shiv Sena member of Parliament (MP) and party’s chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut has been sent a notice summoning her for an inquiry by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Varsha Raut has been summoned reportedly in connection with a multi-crore scam of Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank. The ruling parties have, however, claimed the action was out of political vengeance.
Two days after Eknath Khadse, who recently joined the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) after defecting from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was sent a notice for interrogation, Varsha has been summoned by the central agency on 29 December. Raut, who has been vocal against the BJP government at the Centre, said that they have not received the notice yet. He said that he will hold a press conference after they receive one.
Raut later tweeted a line from Hindi film song, “Aaa Dekhein Zara Kisne Kitna Hai Dum, Jamke Rakhna Kadam Mere Saathiya.”
Varsha has reportedly been summoned in connection with transactions related to the PMC Bank scam. The central agency has reportedly found a link of transactions between the accounts of Varsha and Pravin Raut, one of the directors of Guruashish Constructions Private Limited, who was arrested recently. Guruashish is a subsidiary of Housing Development and Infrastructure Limited (HDIL), whose other directors Rakesh Wadhawan and Sarang Wadhawan have already been arrested in connection with the scam.
The ED had initiated an investigation under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in 2019, against directors of HDIL and Joy Thomas, chairman and managing director of PMC Bank, among others. The case was registered for wrongful losses of more than ₹4,300 crore to PMC Bank through forgeries committed by office bearers of two entities.
The Maharashtra ruling parties – the Shiv Sena, Indian National Congress (INC) and NCP – have termed the action by the ED as politics of vendetta and an attempt by the BJP to threaten leaders who have been criticising them.
The BJP’s Atul Bhatkhalkar pointed out that ED has been investigating the scam for the past eight months. “It recently attached the property of Ratnakar Gutte, an MLA who has supported our party. This shows that the central agency is not taking action only against the non-BJP leaders. The leaders should not be worried about the notices if they have not done anything wrong,” he said.