As the crisis arising out of former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s resignation as MLA subsided, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) demanded to know when the Enforcement Directorate (ED) would take action against other politicians on the board of Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank where a scam of Rs. 25,000-crore is alleged.
“There are at least 17 directors from the Bharatiya Janata Party, some others from the Shiv Sena and other parties, besides other prominent personalities. But only Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar and other NCP leaders were targeted by the ED in its statement (September 24),” pointed out state NCP President Jayant Patil.
Elaborating, Ajit Pawar said that there were ‘irregularities’ – not corruption – to the tune of around Rs. 1,088 crore at the relevant time when the alleged scam erupted, around 2010, and this was also informed to the Maharashtra Legislature.
“Now, the alleged scam is worth Rs. 25,000-crore. Despite so many leaders from various parties sitting on the bank’s board, I was singled out along with Sharad Pawar in the matter. When the MSCB has deposits of only Rs. 12,000 crore, how can there be a scam of Rs. 25,000-crore?” Ajit Pawar demanded, adding that absurd figures are just being bandied about.
He said that as MSCB was the apex bank, on certain occasions, it was required to go out of the way to provide help tide over crises in sugar factories and such units run by BJP leaders like Minister Pankaja Munde, Vinay Kore, Kalyanrao Kale were extended (financial) assistance even though they were NPAs.
The former two-time Dy.CM said all the outstanding loans have been recovered and the MSCB has also made a profit of Rs. 285 crore, so where is the corruption or money-laundering, as alleged by the ED.
Patil said that in the past five years, the NCP has exposed scandals worth hundreds of crores of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government.
“We have submitted details with full evidences, but action has not been initiated. When will the ED start investigations in those cases,” Patil asked, reiterating the party’s stance that the MSCB case was apolitically motivated’ to harass the Pawar family and tarnish the NCP ahead of the October 21 assembly elections.
Both Pawar and Patil pointed ou that although Sharad Pawar was nowhere on the MSCB board, the ED press statement on September 24 mentioned his name.
“With such a vilification campaign against our family, I was extremely disturbeda When the issue itself dates back to 2010, why was it brought out just before elections? For how long with enquiries and investigations go on? If my name was not there, there would have been no case in the first place,” said Ajit Pawar.
Earlier, indicating that the 24-hour long crisis which gripped the NCP had subsided, Ajit Pawar expressed regrets for his abrupt decision to quit as Baramati MLA yesterday, without consulting either the family or the party, here on Saturday afternoon.
“I am sorry I did not take my family (Sharad Pawar, et al) into confidence. I was extremely disturbed owing the Enforcement Directorate dragging the name of Sharad Pawar into the MSCB matter. I apologise to all party leaders and workers for this,” said Ajit Pawar, who became emotional on a couple of occasions, at a crowded media conference.
Pawar Junior added that he was contemplating quitting as MLA since the past few days and had even called up Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade to enquire when he would be available in Mumbai.
“Yesterday evening, around 5.30 p.m., I went and submitted my resignation to his private secretary and then called up the Speaker. I did not give him any reasons for my (resignation) decision,” said Ajit Pawar.
He reiterated Sharad Pawar’s statement that he (Pawar Senior) was not on the board of the MSCB Bank in which the alleged Rs. 25,000-crore scam took place over nine years ago.
“Sharad Pawar is being unnecessarily harassed at an advanced stage. I have been very upset by all this. The Pawar family has been singularly targeted without basis in past few days,” Pawar Junior said.
Prior to the media-briefing, the uncle-nephew duo had a private family meeting at Sharad Pawar’s home and as per his advice, Ajit Pawar addressed the media where he was flanked by the entire NCP top brass, indicating the storm within the party over his resignation had finally calmed down.