Sanjay Raut alleges 25,000 crore corruption in Fadnavis govt, ED extortion from builders

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Tuesday attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Central investigating agencies, alleging 25,000 crore corruption in the previous Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government and extortion bids worth 300 crore by Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials from builders in Mumbai
Sena leader Sanjay Raut addresses a press conference at Shiv Sena Bhavan on Tuesday. Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo
Sena leader Sanjay Raut addresses a press conference at Shiv Sena Bhavan on Tuesday. Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo
Updated on Feb 16, 2022 12:00 AM IST
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By, Mumbai

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Tuesday attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Central investigating agencies, alleging 25,000 crore corruption in the previous Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government and extortion bids worth 300 crore by Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials from builders in Mumbai.

Addressing a press conference at Shiv Sena Bhavan in central Mumbai, Raut demanded the arrest of BJP leader Kirit Somaiya and his son Neil in the Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank scam, alleging that Neil was a director in a company that had dealings with the bank. The Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP said the revelations made on Tuesday were a “trailer” and more would follow soon.

The statements came amid the corruption allegations by BJP leaders against key Sena leaders, including the Thackeray family and Raut.

Raut said it was the Centre’s ploy to misuse investigating agencies to topple the governments in Maharashtra, West Bengal and Jharkhand. He, however, added that the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) will remain till 2024 and even after that.

Raut, who had written last week to vice president and Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu over the use of Central agencies, said key BJP leaders met him in Delhi and sought his assistance to topple the MVA government.

“There were many scams in the Fadnavis government, but the biggest one was in MahaIT, worth 25,000 crore. Who is Amol Kale? Where is he kept in hiding? Who is Vijay Dhawangale? The details, including awarding of contracts without tenders, account details, and money transactions, will be sent to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) in two days and then to the ED,” Raut said.

He further alleged that a milkman from Haryana, SK Narwar, was involved in money laundering for BJP leaders in Maharashtra. “I want to ask the ED if they know this Narwar? In only five years, how could this milkman be worth 7,000 crore? He started travelling to Maharashtra since the BJP government was formed [in 2014]. Soon, I will expose the money laundering of Narwar and BJP leaders from Mumbai. Out of the 7,000 crore, 3,500 crore have gone through corruption and bagging projects in Maharashtra.”

The Sena MP outlined key allegations, including alleged land deals by the Thackeray family, Shridhar Patankar, brother of Rashmi Thackeray, and the PMC Bank scam, and dismissed them.

“So far, we had not responded to these allegations, but Uddhav ji told me to tell people what the reality is... He (Somaiya) said the Thackeray family had built 19 bungalows at Korlai in Alibaug, and that this was benami property. I challenge that man to show us those bungalows,” Raut said.

Countering Somaiya’s allegation that Raut and his family members were a party and beneficiary to the PMC Bank scam, Raut said Neil was involved in financial transactions with builder Rakesh Wadhawan, an accused in the case. “Somaiya says Wadhawan is a corrupt man, involved in the PMC Bank scam. Nicon Infra Construction Company is owned by Somaiya’s family. Neil is the owner, and a partner of Wadhawan. Nicon Infra has direct links to the PMC Bank scam accused.”

Raut further claimed that land worth 400 crore was bought for 4.5 crore and 7 crore in Vasai. “Neil is the director of the project - Nicon phase 1 and phase 2. The money used in the project is from PMC Bank.”

The Sena leader said the project lacks environmental clearances and urged state environment minister Aaditya Thackeray to take cognisance of the matter and order the work to halt. “I also urge the EOW to arrest Kirit and Niel Somaiya in the PMC Bank scam.”

Responding to the allegations, Somaiya, a former Mumbai MP, said he was ready to face any inquiry by the state government. “Similar allegations were levelled against my wife Medha Somaiya in 2017 in Sena mouthpiece Saamana. Today, he has levelled allegations against my son Neil by linking his name to the same developer. The Thackeray government has filed 10 cases against me; there are three more waiting to be filed in the next few days. I or my family members are not involved in any corruption or irregularities.”

Somaiya also questioned why Raut did not speak about the corruption in Covid centres or his relations with Pravin Raut and Sujit Patkar, against whom he had levelled allegations of corruption.

Raut also claimed that some officers of the ED are involved in extortion and money laundering. He named four people - Jitendra Navlani, Fareed Shama, Romi and Firoz Shama. “Who are these agents? They have collected around 300 crore from 60 builders in Mumbai. I have the documents. I will first write to [PM Narendra] Modi ji, Amit Shah ji, and then make the information public,” he said.

The press conference was a show of strength. Sena leaders, including Diwakar Raote, Arvind Sawant, Vinayak Raut, Anandrao Adsul, Kishori Pednekar, Anil Desai, and Uday Samant were present. Sena insiders said a largescale counterattack was needed to remove any misconceptions from the minds of people, especially with the municipal corporation elections coming up in a few months.

The street outside Sena Bhavan was chock-a-block with party workers, who had assembled to listen to Raut on a giant led screen put up outside the party headquarters.

Samant, a key minister in the government, said, “This is not done for a show of strength. This is party workers’ spontaneous reaction to the decision to fight the injustice done by the Centre.”

Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil termed the press conference much ado about nothing. “The much-hyped press conference by Raut was expected to reveal something sensational, but it proved to be khoda pahad nikala chuha [much ado about nothing] exercise. He levelled only allegations, without producing documents. They are free to submit the documents to the authorities or move the court,” he said.

Raut also linked BJP functionary Mohit Kamboj to Patra Chawl in Goregaon, saying the funds used by Kamboj were from the PMC Bank.

Kamboj said, “Raut has alleged about the irregularities in Patra Chawl redevelopment and my involvement in it. The allegations are baseless as I am one of the sufferers in the project, and had filed an FIR. I am ready to face any inquiry.”

Nana Patole, president, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC), said, “The Congress demands that the chief minister probe these charges through the EOW.”

Pointing to Raut’s allegation about money being extorted for the ED, Patole said the beneficiaries of these funds must be determined. “The agencies will not act in this manner without the support of the Union government.”

Atul Londhe, spokesperson, MPCC, said Raut’s allegations validated their claims that Central enforcement agencies were being used to coerce and destabilise non-BJP state governments. He also called for charges against Somaiya to be probed, and for action to be taken.

(With inputs by Dhaval Kulkarni)

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Swapnil Rawal is Principal Correspondent with the Hindustan Times. He covers urban development and infrastructure. He had long stints with leading national dailies and has experience of over a decade in journalism.

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