Both UPA, NDA misused Central probe agencies, says MNS chief

ED is not a tool in the hands of Centre to topple whosoever it did not like, says Raj Thackeray.

Both the erstwhile Congress-led United Progressive Alliance and the current BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government have misused the Central probe agencies to settle political scores, said Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday, commenting on the recent spate of Enforcement Directorate actions against the leadership of the ruling ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ government.

“The ED is not some tool in the hands of the Central government that it can use to topple whosoever it did not like … This is extremely wrong. Earlier, the same [misusing probe agencies] was practised when the Congress was in power and now the BJP is doing likewise. In fact, the real culprits who have committed misdemeanours are roaming scot-free,” said Mr. Thackeray, speaking during the inauguration of the MNS party office in Pune.

The MNS president was responding to questions on the ED’s questioning of Nationalist Congress Party leader Eknath Khadse and the agency’s arrest of his son-in-law Girish Choudhary in a money laundering case related to a dubious land deal in Pune’s Bhosari area.

“Mr. Khadse had earlier said that if the ED was put behind him, he would release a tell-all CD. Therefore, I am now waiting to see when Mr. Khadse will do this,” said Mr.Thackeray.

After spiritedly campaigning — and failing miserably — against the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the MNS was seen to be gravitating towards the saffron party subsequently. This change of ideological direction was motivated by an attempt to seize the vacant ‘Hindutva’ space in Maharashtra following the ideologically opposed alliance of Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena (Raj Thackeray’s estranged cousin) with the NCP and the Congress in forming the MVA government to keep the BJP out of power in Maharashtra.

Maratha quota

Rebuking both the State and the Centre for failing to grant the Maratha community a quota, the MNS chief said the community was being tossed around by political parties while being fobbed off with hollow promises.

“If both the parties in the State and the Centre are agreed that reservation must be given to the Maratha community, then where is the problem? The same is true of OBC reservation … if that is also acceptable to all parties, as they like to claim, then wherein lies the obstacle? I think both communities ought to bring all these political leaders [of both Centre and State] on a common forum and confront them with these questions,” Mr. Thackeray said.

He chastised the MVA government for failing to defend the Maratha quota in the Supreme court.

“At the time of the erstwhile Congress-NCP government in the State, the Maratha communities had staged a big protest in Mumbai. At that time, leaders of the Congress, the Shiv Sena, the BJP and the NCP had gone and met the protesters to assure them of their demands. Then I had said that if everyone agrees to reservation, then where is the problem? Or do these parties just want to keep playing about with the interests of the Maratha community and provoke their youth?” questioned the MNS chief.

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