Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut, among the most vociferous backers of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray amid a revolt in the party, has been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in Mumbai for questioning tomorrow in a case of alleged money laundering.
Team Thackeray has been saying that the mutiny led by Eknath Shinde is a result of “pressure of ED, CBI and other agencies” under the BJP-led central government.
The summons to Raut are in connection with the Rs 1,034-crore Patra Chawl land scam case, in which the ED attached his properties in April. Mr Raut had said then, “I am not the one who will get scared. Seize my property, shoot me, or send me to jail, Sanjay Raut is Balasaheb Thackeray’s follower and a Shiv Sainik.”
Two months on, as several Shiv Sena MLAs rebelled and sought a breakup of the Sena’s Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance with the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Raut accused them of acting on the directions of the BJP. The rebels, camping in Guwahati in BJP-ruled Assam, have insisted that the Sena should go back to its “natural” alliance with the BJP, citing a shared Hindutva ideology.
Raut said last week that the central government was misusing the ED against the Sena. “Even we have ED pressure but we will continue to stand with Uddhav Thackeray,” he told reporters last Thursday. “He who leaves the party under ED pressure is not a true Balasaheb bhakt,” he had further said, pledging allegiance to Uddhav Thackeray’s father and party founder Bal Thackeray. Rebel Eknath Shinde too has cited Bal Thackeray as his guiding light.
The protracted battle for a claim to the “real” Shiv Sena, meanwhile, is now being fought in court as well. The alliance government is precariously close to the edge as Eknath Shinde claims support of around 40 party MLAs and Independents. The Shinde camp has moved the Supreme Court against the Shiv Sena’s move to disqualify him and 15 other rebel MLAs. In the petition, Shinde has claimed that the ruling alliance in Maharashtra has lost majority as 38 of 55 Shiv Sena legislators have “withdrawn support”.
A petition has been filed in the Bombay High Court, too — this one, a public interest litigation or PIL by a group of citizens against Eknath Shinde and other rebel Sena MLAs for causing a “political turmoil”. It urges the court to direct the rebel leaders to return to Maharashtra to resume their duties.
With inputs from NDTV