IT raids on kin of Ajit Pawar: Pawar clan hints at aggressive stand against BJP
A day after Income Tax (I-T) authorities carried out raids at residences and offices of the relatives and sugar factories connected to deputy chief minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar, the party took an aggressive stand against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Central government.
The party held a show of strength in Pune outside Central Hall against I-T action against Pawar family. The party has believably started preparations to make the Maharashtra Bandh, announced by the ruling coalition on October 11, successful in a bid to corner BJP. Ajit Pawar and NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule, who is a Member of Parliament (MP) from Baramati, also reacted bitterly to I-T action.
BJP said the action was being taken by the central agency and its government at the Centre was not resorting to political vendetta.
I-T officers raided the houses of Ajit Pawar’s two sisters and the office of his son Parth in the past two days. Sugar factories related to him, too, were raided. While the Pawars said this was a misuse of power, the family has reportedly taken the action very seriously by contending that their members, who have nothing to do with politics, were being targeted owing to political vendetta.
Sharad Pawar reacted sharply to the raids on the houses of his nieces and reminded the central agencies about the reaction of the people after the the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had sent him a notice in 2019.
“I was sent a notice by ED [in connection to alleged regularities] in Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank. I had nothing to do with the bank. But the entire Maharashtra reacted on it and made a fool out of BJP,” he said in a public meeting at Solapur. Sharad Pawar was referring to the outcry witnessed among party workers when he was served the notice ahead of the Assembly polls in September. Party workers had gathered outside ED office in Mumbai in big numbers after Sharad Pawar announced that he will visit the agency office. He later cancelled the visit after Mumbai Police and then state government requested them to do so for law and order. The party won more seats in the Assembly polls and observers believe that the ED notice, too, had played a crucial role in its performance, especially in western Maharashtra, which is an NCP stronghold.
Sharad Pawar deliberately referred to the incident on Friday and also made an appeal to the people to participate in the Maharashtra Bandh to call out against BJP’s rule in Uttar Pradesh in the backdrop of the killing of farmers during a protest last week. The party is believably set to resort to show of strength against the BJP and the Central government. Sharad Pawar has said he and his family were being targeted because he likened the killings in Lakhimpur Kheri to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
Referring to the IT officers as guests, Sharad Pawar said, “Guests have been visiting Ajit Pawar. We are never scared of guests.”
He said the central government was misusing the agencies against political opponents.
Ajit Pawar had to intervene and pacify the party workers protesting outside Central Hall in Pune on Friday and appealed people go home. He later said that he will react after the “guests” had completed their raids.
“I do not want to disturb the guests. Let them complete their duty. I am not going to go anywhere. We did not get any notice before the raids. I follow all rules and comply with tax-related formalities. Once the action was completed, I will speak with evidence over the deals of the sugar factories and the people behind their sale,” he said.
On Thursday, Ajit Pawar had asked why those related to BJP do not face any action.
Sule termed the action against her sisters as an attack against women. She also said that those [BJP] who rule in the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj do not follow his principle of respecting women and act like the Mughals.
“The action against my sisters is unfortunate. They are senior citizens and have nothing to do with politics. We are okay if the action was taken against us as we are public figures, but not on our sisters’ [properties] who have been living their lives peacefully. However, they know how to fight it out as they are from the soil of Jijau (Chhatrapati Shivaji’s mother Jijabai) and Savitribai Phule. Maharashtra will not bow before the Delhi throne,” she said.
Political analyst Pratap Asbe said the Pawars will take appropriate political stand at the right time.
“The Pawars are annoyed because of the attack on the family members who are not active in politics. They would not let it go easily and act at the appropriate time. It seems that the action by the central agencies has not gone down well among the general people as they also realise about the intention behind the raids. There could be the reaction same like in 2019 in the forthcoming elections,” he said.
Party insiders said the leadership believes that the action by the central agencies will help them in the forthcoming local body elections, if utilised strategically. The party leaders have therefore invoked the names of Savitribai Phule and Rajmata Jijabai and termed it as an attack against women.
Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said holding his party responsible for the raids was a joke.
“I-T officers have raided 25 residential premises and 15 offices and such a massive action cannot be carried out in preparation of a day or two. Stating that the raids are because of criticism over the UP incident is a joke. I-T is an independent central agency and works within the legal framework. The action should be replied to legally. It is wrong to relate the action with BJP.”