New Delhi: Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Monday (December 28) attacked the Centre after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summoned his wife Varsha Rau in connection with the PMC bank scam case. Raut alleged Central agencies were being used to “destabilise” the Uddhav Thackeray-led government in Maharashtra.

Addressing media persons in Mumbai, the Shiv Sena MP said that BJP leaders had been in touch with him for over a year to effect this plan, adding that Central agencies were being used as “weapons” against family members of (BJP’s) political opponents who cannot be won over.

Raut said, “Some BJP leaders have been contacting me since the last one year, saying they have made all the arrangements to destabilise the Maharashtra government. They have been pressurising and threatening me not to support the government.”

He further said, “They told me that they have a list of 22 MLAs of Congress and NCP who will be forced to resign under the pressure of Central investigating agencies.” 

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) summoned Varsha Raut for questioning in the PMC Bank money laundering case on December 29, officials had said on Sunday. The ED officials had said that Varsha Raut has been asked to appear before the federal agency in Mumbai. This is the third summons issued to her after she skipped the earlier two on health grounds, they told PTI.

“I will hold discussions with NCP president Sharad Pawar too,” Raut said when asked if his wife will appear before the ED in response to the summons issued against her. He said he was a Shiv Sainik of Balasaheb Thackeray, and will “expose” BJP leaders.

“They will have to take flights out of the country like Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallaya,” he said, adding that he had a list of “120 BJP leaders who are fit case for a probe by the ED for money laundering”.

Saying his wife is a teacher, Raut said unlike leaders of the BJP, “our income has not grown by Rs 1,600 crore,” adding “This politics is played out of frustration when you cannot fight your political opponents face to face. Shiv sena will respond to this in an equal measure.” 

The Sena MP said he had been doing regular correspondence with the federal agency for the last one-and- a-half months regarding a Rs 50 lakh loan taken by his wife ten years ago from a friend to purchase a house. He said all the details regarding this loan had already been submitted to the ED during the correspondence.

“We are middle-class people. My wife had taken a loan from a friend 10 years ago to purchase a house. Details have been given to the Income Tax (Department) and also mentioned in my Raya Sabhaaffidavit. The ED woke up to this deal after ten years,” he wondered.

“When the ED itself did not mention that the correspondence was regarding the PMC Bank scam case and HDIL, then how can BJP leaders say so?” he asked.

Raut also suggested that some BJP leaders speaking against him since December 27 used to frequent the ED office (in south Mumbai) and “have taken away some papers from the office”. He declined to give any names.

Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress are constituents of the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, which was formed in November 2019 after the Sena and the BJP fell out over sharing the post of chief minister following the Assembly elections.

He said Chief Minister and Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had told him that the party wasn’t scared and will fight such tactics from the forefront, adding “But we will not involve family members (of political opponents). 

Earlier in the day, state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh told reporters in Nagpur that whoever speaks against policies or leaders of the BJP is facing action from Central agencies.

In his column in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, Raut today slammed the Centre over the ongoing military standoff between India and China along Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh and the call for the boycott of the Chinese goods. The Shiv Sena MP said the Centre succeeded in pushing pack the Chinese investments but not Chinese soldiers.

Referring to the COVID-19 lockdown which left many jobless, Raut said, “During the lockdown, many people lost their jobs and suffered salary cuts. Faceoff with China was another crisis we faced this year.” 

BJP, however, said that the claims made by Sanjay Raut are laughable with senior party leader Keshav Upadhyay saying that Raut’s only agenda is to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre.

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