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Ahead of Maharashtra polls, ED books Sharad Pawar, nephew Ajit Pawar

Weeks before Maharashtra goes to polls, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar was booked by Enforcement Directorate along with his nephew Ajit Pawar.



Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar with his nephew Ajit Pawar.

Weeks before Maharashtra goes to polls, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar was yesterday – Tuesday, Sep 24 – booked by Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case along with his nephew Ajit Pawar and 70 other officials of the Maharashtra State Co-operative (MSC) Bank.

In his reaction at the move, Sharad Pawar reportedly said he would have been ‘surprised’ if there had not been such action against him given the ‘huge’ response he received during his Maharashtra Assembly election campaign. Maharashtra goes to polls on October 21.

Pawar said that he would be “pleased” to go to jail as he had “never experienced it”. The NCP leader has been named in a complaint but is not listed as an accused in the police report on what the ED says is a Rs. 25,000-crore scam involving the sanction of loans by the MSC Bank.

“A case has been registered. I have no problem if I have to go to jail. I’ll be pleased as I’ve never had this experience. If someone plans to send me to jail, I welcome it,” Sharad Pawar, 78, said, as per a NDTV report.

Pawar had earlier “thanked” the Enforcement Directorate for naming him in connection with a bank of which he was not a member and where he was not a part of decision-making.

The Enforcement Directorate filed a case naming the Pawars based on a case filed after a Bombay High Court ordered the police to charge Ajit Pawar and 75 others in the alleged scam.

The Maharashtra State Cooperative (MSC) Bank is controlled largely by NCP leaders and people close to them.

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The complaint alleges that banking laws and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines were violated when loans were distributed to office bearers and directors of local co-operative sugar factories (CSFs), sugar factories and spinning mills in Maharashtra that had weak financial profiles, as well as the bank’s then top executives. Many of those who had sanctioned the loans were allegedly linked to the owners of the sugar mills.

The CSFs subsequently turned sick due to alleged mismanagement and underutilisation of capacity. They were sold by the board at a price below the reserve price offering wrongful gains to the purchaser.

ED is probing why these CSFs were sold at that price and at a price favouring the purchaser with no rules followed to fix the reserve price in some cases.

The alleged fraud was committed between 2001 and 2011 and is pegged at Rs 25,000 crore.

Most of MSC Bank’s 48 directors at the time were elected representatives from various political parties. These directors included Ajit Pawar, Anand Adsul and Dilip Deshmukh, among others.

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After the high court order, a case was filed last month by the economic offence wing of the Maharashtra police. Based on the case, the Enforcement Directorate started a money-laundering investigation.

According to sources, many of the sugar factories have become sick and were sold at throwaway prices. Those who bought them were allegedly linked to the bank’s directors.

Pawar has questioned the timing of the case as campaigning picks up for the assembly elections that will pit the ruling BJP and its ally Shiv Sena against the opposition Congress-NCP alliance.

“I would have been surprised had such action not been taken against me after the kind of response I receive during my visits to various districts of the state,” he said.

Last week, Pawar had taken a swipe at Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who had targeted him at a rally and questioned what he had done for Maharashtra. “One leader from their party (BJP) questioned what Sharad Pawar has done. I would like to say one thing, Sharad Pawar has never been to jail for whatever good or bad things he did. Those who were in jail for months are asking what I have done,” Pawar retorted at a rally in the same region, apparently referring to a case against Shah, in which he was discharged.

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Mamata Banerjee stages overnight sit-in protest against Centre’s discrimination



West Bengal Chief Minster Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday staged an overnight sit-in in front of Dr BR Ambedkar’s statue on Kolkata’s Red Road to protest Centre’s alleged “discrimination” against the TMC-ruled state.

Accompanied by top leaders, including Firhad Hakim and Aroop Biswas—and workers of her Trinamool Congress (TMC), Banerjee sat overnight in front the Dalit icon’s bust in the heart of Kolkata from Wednesday noon to protest the BJP-led Centre’s stoppage” of funds to West Bengal for MGNREGA and other schemes of the housing and public works departments.

Reverting her earlier stance on staying equidistant from the BJP and the Congress in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the TMC supremo on Wednesday, urged political parties across the country to form a united front for ousting the saffron party in next year’s national elections.

Mamata Banerjee termed the 2024 Lok Sabha elections as a fight between citizens of India versus the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and urged people, irrespective of region or religion, to unite and defeat the right-wing party and save India’s poor.

Dubbing the BJP as ‘Dushasana’ and ‘Duryodhana’ – the two villains from the Hindu epic ‘Mahabharata’, Banerjee urged all political parties in India to unify and oust the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP regime at the Centre.

She claimed that ‘Duryodhana’ BJP must be ousted to “save” India’s common man and the country’s democracy.

A senior officer of the Kolkata Police said that heavy security has been deployed in and around the venue where the West Bengal CM is currently staging her 30-hour sit-in protest which is likely to end by late Thursday evening.

After choosing to remain aloof from the BJP-Congress tussle, Mamata Banerjee participated in the grand old party’s strategy meet to protest Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from Parliament as the Opposition presented a united front.

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Poster war: AAP to kick-off countrywide Modi Hatao Desh Bachao poster campaign today

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is all geared up to step up its ‘poster war’ with the BJP to another level as the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal-led party readies to launch posters calling for the ouster of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a nationwide campaign in eleven languages.



Modi Hatao Desh Bachao poster campaign

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is all geared up to step up its ‘poster war’ with the BJP to another level as the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal-led party readies to launch posters calling for the ouster of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a nationwide campaign in eleven languages.

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai and senior AAP leader said that the Kejriwal-led party will display anti-PM Modi posters in states across the country on March 30, adding that all state units of the AAP have been directed to paste posters—which have been printed in 11 languages— in their respective states.

Last week, the BJP-AAP ‘poster war’ escalated after the saffron party-sponsored posters calling for the removal of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal were seen plastered in parts of the national capital, days after similar posters were posted by “anonymous” persons targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On Tuesday last, the posters calling for the removal of PM Modi to “save the country” were removed during a large-scale crackdown by the Delhi Police, which also led to the arrest of six accused, including two printing press owners.

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The arrested printing press owners allegedly told the police that they had received an order to print 50,000 “Modi hatao, desh bachao” posters.

Police said the arrests were made for defacing public property and under the law, the posters were required to carry the name of the printing press. They said that only 36 cases out of 138 filed were for the anti-Modi posters.

In retaliation, BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa put up anti-Kejriwal posters with the slogan ‘Arvind Kejriwal ko hatao, Dilli Bachao (Remove Arvind Kejriwal, Save Delhi’ with a header calling the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Corrupt, Dishonest and Dictator, across the national capital on March 23—two days after the Delhi Police’s crackdown on anti-Modi posters which read ‘Modi hatao, desh bachao (remove Modi, save the country).’

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Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge hits back at PM Modi’s corruption remark, says stop image makeover

The Congress chief also accentuated the use of ED sleuth on the Opposition and further asked how the BJP leaders are cleared off their charges after being inducted into the party.



Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a jibe at the Opposition unity on Tuesday calling their Opposition unity a coming together of the corrupt, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday hit back at PM Modi. Kharge asked PM Modi to stop BJP’s image make over by portraying as Anti-Corruption crusader.

Kharge, in his Tweet, wrote and questioned who owns 20,000 Crore Rs in Adani’s Shell companies. Kharge further raked up the names of defaulters Lalit Modi, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, Vijay Mallya, Jatin Mehta who fled the country and asked if they are a part of PM Modi’s ‘Bhrashtachari Bhagao Abhiyan’.

See tweet here:

Kharge, in his second Tweet, also questioned on why the ruling BJP is accused of 40% commission in Karnataka. Kharge further upped the ante and accused the Meghalaya Government to be the most corrupt.

Congress Chief Malikarjun Kharge, in his scathing attack, raked up the issue of BJP leader being involved in Sanjivani Cooperative scam in Rajasthan, Poshan scam in MP and Naan scam in Chhattisgarh.

See tweet here:

The Congress chief also accentuated the use of ED sleuth on the Opposition and further asked how the BJP leaders are cleared off their charges after being inducted into the party.

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Kharge, in his tweet, challenged PM Modi to order a Joint Parliamentary Committee to sit on the allegations on levelled against Adani. He further wrote and urged the PM to hold a press conference in his 9 years of PM office where the the media won’t ask trivial questions.

See tweet here:

Mallikarjun Kharge’s unsparing attack on Prime Minister Modi comes a day after the PM targeted the Opposition unity amid the disqualification of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi from Lok Sabha. PM Modi, in his attack on the Opposition, said that some parties have initiated Bhrashtachari Bachao Abhiyan and also dubbed the unity of Opposition as the uniting of corrupt.

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