Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Monday said the summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to his wife Varsha Raut was an “act of cowardice” and hinted that several political leaders are being targetted by the investigative agency.
The central agency has summoned Raut’s wife in connection with the PMC Bank money laundering case on December 29. The summons for questioning has been issued to her under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), officials said.
“Targetting women of a household is an act of cowardice. We are not scared of anyone and will respond accordingly. ED needed some papers and we have submitted them in time,” the Shiv Sena MP was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Also read: Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut’s wife Varsha summoned by ED in PMC Bank scam case
The ED action, Raut said, reflected “frustration” of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against him, owing to his role in the formation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government last year and because he didn’t yield to the pressure to make it unstable, news agency PTI reported. The Shiv Sena will respond in equal measure, Raut said.
“In the last one year, Sharad Pawar, Eknath Khadse and Pratap Sarnaik got notices and now you all are discussing my name. All these people are crucial for government formation in Maharashtra,” Raut said. The Shiv Sena leader also dubbed the notices as “pieces of paper, nothing else”.
Alleging that ED has woken up after 10 years, Raut said his family is from a middle-class background and his wife is a teacher. “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 Rajya Sabha affidavit. The ED woke up to this deal after ten years,” he said.
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”.
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The summons has set off a wave of political reactions from Maharashtra government who have said that Central agencies are being misused to settle political scores. Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray on Monday said the summons issued by ED to Raut’s wife was “politically motivated”. “The ED move is politically motivated. We are not scared. The MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi) government is stable,” Aaditya, who is also the son of Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, told reporters when asked about the ED summons.