Maharashtra BJP chief dares Hasan Mushrif to face ED; Kirit Somaiya plans to move HC over detention
BJP’s Maharashtra president Chandrakant Patil on Monday contended that Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar would not support any wrongdoing by any of his party members. He hit out at the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government and Rural Development Minister Hasan Mushrif of the NCP for ‘trying to stifle’ BJP leader Kirit Somaiya’s attempts to expose alleged corruption by Mr. Mushrif and his family.
Mr. Patil dared Mr. Mushrif to calmly face the Enforcement Directorate (ED) than resorting to strong-arm tactics to prevent Mr. Somaiya from reaching Kolhapur.
“I would urge Mr. Mushrif to not fight battles using the Kolhapuri chappal method. It is easy to resort to such strong-arm methods. But it is much harder to face the ED. Mr. Mushrif should account for how money from Kolkata-based shell companies made their way to the sugar factories owned by him,” Mr. Patil, who is the Kothrud MLA, said.
When asked whether Mr. Pawar might have had a hand in the affair, Mr. Patil, who has been vocal about the NCP chief in the past, said he did not think Mr. Pawar would ever support such dubious activity of any party member.
“As far as I know him, Mr. Pawar, who has been a tall leader in Maharashtra’s politics, has never involved himself in such shadowy dealings… I suspect Mr. Mushrif’s discomfiture rose from the fact that Mr. Pawar washed off his hands off in this case when the Minister met his party chief. Hence, he is now panicking,” he claimed.
He denied that the Central government was specifically targeting NCP and Shiv Sena’s senior leaders with the aim of supplanting their influence across crucial districts in the State. “Injustice is on the BJP’s radar…In the next two-three days, two senior Congress leaders will also be exposed,” he stated.
While Mr. Mushrif could refute Mr. Somaiya’s allegations if he wished to, the MVA government had no business resorting to ‘dictatorship’ by ‘misusing the police machinery’ to prevent the latter from reaching Kolhapur, he said.
“He [Mr. Mushrif] must first answer the ED as to how did a fake entry of ₹ 98 crore come about in the accounts of the Appasaheb Nalawade sugar factory in Kolhapur’s Gadhinglaj tehsil, as alleged by Mr. Somaiya,” he remarked.
Mr. Patil denied the Minister’s allegations that Mr. Somaiya was merely a ‘tool’ in a conspiracy to defame Mr. Mushrif that was in fact being masterminded by Mr. Patil himself. “Such allegations of me masterminding a conspiracy against him are laughable…Hasan Mushrif cannot sleep without taking my name. He can file any defamation suit against me at any time if he so wishes. We are friends, but do not fight legal battles using blows, else the BJP will straighten such people,” he warned.
Detention at Karad
After setting off on Sunday night for Kolhapur from Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji railway Terminus (CST) amid high drama, Mr. Somaiya was detained at the Karad railway station in Satara district on grounds that the Kolhapur District administration had issued prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC against him.
Last week, Mr. Somaiya accused Mr. Mushrif and his relatives of being involved in a ₹127 crore money laundering scam case and was scheduled to visit the properties owned by Mr. Mushrif in Kolhapur’s Kagal area in this regard on Monday.
Speaking in Karad after being stopped by police, Mr. Somaiya threatened to move the Bombay High Court against the State government and the Mumbai Police Commissioner for detaining him at his residence and stopping him from performing Ganesh Visarjan.
“200 police personnel were outside and I was detained for six hours yesterday. Later, the police, acting under the instructions of the government, tried to ensure I would not get a train to Kolhapur. I was detained for half an hour under a forged order,” he alleged.
Interestingly, contrary to Mr. Patil’s view, Mr. Somaiya alleged that the State government could not have taken such a dire action against him without Mr. Pawar’s hand.
“I doubt if Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has the guts to order the police to detain me in this fashion. After all, it is Mr. Pawar who runs this [MVA] government,” he claimed, warning that he would expose a third scam pertaining to Mr. Mushrif in the coming week.
Mr. Somaiya later made his way back to Mumbai from Karad.
Expressing incredulity at the Maharashtra government’s clampdown on Mr. Somaiya, Leader of Opposition and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said it must probably be the first time that a whistleblower was stopped by policemen from filing a complaint on grounds that that there was an alleged threat to his life from the followers of the person against whom he was complaining.
Both Mr. Fadnavis and Mr. Patil rubbished Mr. Mushrif’s claims that the latter’s alleged ‘refusal’ to join the then Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP-Shiv Sena coalition government prompted the BJP to unleash the Income Tax Department on him.
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