After the Enforcement Directorate filed a charge sheet in the Patra 'chawl' redevelopment case and mentioned a meeting involving him, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday said he was "always ready" for any kind of inquiry.
Addressing reporters in Mumbai, Pawar also said filing cases and arresting Opposition leaders seem to be the flagship project of the Centre. I am always ready for any kind of inquiry. All I want to know is that if the allegations levelled against me prove to be baseless, then what action will be taken against the party leaders who unleashed such charges against me at the outset"? he asked.
If you check today's Indian Express, it has detailed how Central probe agencies have increased their actions against Opposition parties and leaders. It seems that filing cases and arresting Opposition leaders are the flagship project of the Centre," Pawar said. The Indian Express has launched an investigation series and reported that the number of ED cases against politicians has gone up four times since 2014, and 95% of them are from the Opposition.
The national daily also reported that Congress, TMC, and NCP are the top three in net. "Whenever they have some doubts about the outcome of an election, such steps are taken as an important work. The key issues and challenges before the society are kept aside, Pawar said in a swipe at BJP-ruled Centre.
We will respond to it politically, said the NCP chief. A prime witness in Mumbai's Patra 'chawl' redevelopment project case has told the ED that during 2008-09, some residents of the area had approached Sharad Pawar through local politicians for the redevelopment of the tenement in suburban Goregaon.
After various meetings, accused Sanjay Raut and Pravin Raut, along with Rakesh Wadhawan, of HDIL (Housing Development Infrastructure Ltd) were asked to handle the project, the witness had told the ED. Her statement is part of the supplementary charge sheet filed last week. The federal agency is probing the alleged money laundering aspect in connection with the Patra chawl case, in which Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut is an accused. He is currently in judicial custody.
The BJP on Tuesday demanded a probe against Pawar in connection with the controversial chawl redevelopment project. In a letter to Maharashtra deputy chief minister and home minister Devendra Fadnavis, BJP leader Atul Bhatkhalkar stated that the ED had referred to a former secretary of the state housing department.
"The charge sheet says the then Union agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar, had held a meeting in Mumbai along with then chief minister. Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut was also present there, where the decision to allot the redevelopment work (of Patra chawl) to Guru Ashish Construction company was taken," the BJP leader had alleged. Referring to the claims of Bhatkhalkar, senior NCP leader Jitendra Awhad on Wednesday said a meeting had taken place on August 14, 2006, in Mumbai.
"Then secretary of the state housing department, Swadhin Kshatriya, was present for the meeting. He noted in the minutes of the meeting that as per the Supreme Court's verdict, a modification in the government's resolution was required," he said. Awhad, who was present at Pawar's presser, claimed that Pawar had asked the tenants of the Patra chawl and the (Housing department) secretary to apprise the chief minister about it.We are not opposed to any inquiry but any allegation should not be blown out of proportion. It seems to be a conspiracy to defame Sharad Pawar, he claimed. The former state minister said there is not a single major project in Maharashtra for which Pawar had not intervened. He had held meetings to find a solution, Awhad added.