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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

I quit as Sharad Pawar and NCP were defamed because of me, says Ajit

mumbai Updated: Sep 29, 2019 00:54 IST
Faisal Malik
Faisal Malik
Hindustantimes
         

Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar on Saturday said he resigned as a legislator after feeling “hurt and upset” over his uncle and party chief Sharad Pawar’s name being dragged in the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) money-laundering probe at the Maharashtra State Co-operative (MSC) Bank.

“Sharad Pawar has no connection with this bank. I feel his name has been dragged in just because I am his relative. Because of me, Sharad Pawar and NCP are being defamed, and that is the reason I have resigned without asking him,” said Ajit Pawar, who broke down while addressing a press conference. “I have emotions too. How come they keep levelling absurd allegations against me.”

The former deputy chief minister had on Friday submitted his resignation as a member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) to Speaker Haribhau Bagade, which the latter accepted. Ajit Pawar, along with Sharad Pawar and others, has been named by ED in its money-laundering case in connection with an alleged Rs25,000-crore MSC Bank fraud.

Ajit Pawar, however, questioned the Rs25,000-crore figure that has been mentioned in context of the case.

“The total deposit of MSC Bank is Rs10,000 crore to Rs12,000 crore. How come a scam to the extent of Rs25,000 crore happen? It [ MSC Bank] would have gone bankrupt by now. I have a written reply by the co-operation minister in which he has admitted in the state legislature that the matter is related to financial irregularities of Rs1,088 crore,” said Ajit Pawar.

A six-term MLA from Baramati Assembly constituency, Ajit Pawar also clarified that he was not quitting politics, and will in fact be contesting from the seat in the polls on October 21. “I will do whatever Pawar saheb asks me to do. He has told me to contest Assembly elections from Baramati constituency,” he said.

Sharad Pawar, during his press conference on Friday, had said his nephew may consider quitting politics.

Ajit Pawar, reiterating what his uncle had said a day before, also brushed aside speculation of a feud within the Pawar family. “I was very upset and hurt and was deliberating since the past few days over taking such a step [to resign]. No one would have approved my decision had I discussed it in the party. I don’t know whether it was a mistake, but I will like to take this opportunity to apologise to everyone—my seniors, well-wishers and NCP workers — for hurting their sentiments,” Ajit Pawar said.

Earlier on Saturday, Ajit Pawar met Sharad Pawar at the latter’s Mumbai residence on Bhulabhai Desai Road. The meeting was also attended by Ajit Pawar’s younger brother, Shrinivas, and Sharad Pawar’s daughter, Supriya Sule. Other party leader, although present at Pawar’s home, were kept out of the meeting.

After the meeting, Sharad Pawar had once again rubbished speculation of a family feud. “There is no reason to worry. Ajit will himself clarify the entire thing,” the former Union minister said.

At the press conference, Ajit Pawar also explained that as MSC Bank directors they took a few decisions out of the way only to help co-operative sugar factories and spinning mills to bring them out of the financial crisis. Moreover, all those co-operative units have repaid the loans. “A decision on similar lines was recently taken by the Devendra Fadnavis-led state government to help four sugar factories, and one of them is Vaidyanath Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana Limited, which is related to the women and child development minister Pankaja Munde,” said Ajit Pawar, adding that he was being targeted by “some people” to defame him. “There are 70 members, who have been named in the case, from different political parties such as BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress and PWP, but only Ajit Pawar’s name is being singled out.”

Sharad Pawar, too, on Friday said that there was a political motive behind ED’s case and had declared that he will not bow down before New Delhi.

However, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has insisted that the action is being taken in accordance with the Bombay high court order and there was no politics involved.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Ajit Pawar found support from his party and others. At the press conference, he was accompanied by state NCP president Jayant Patil, former deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal, former Assembly speaker Dilip Walse Patil, leader of opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde and legislator Jitendra Awhad. “Why is only Ajit Pawar being singled out where there are more than 70 directors of the bank and the loans were given to co-operatives of farmers,” said Patil.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut visited the Pawar residence and said, “I have family relations with the NCP chief.” His party chief Uddhav Thackeray, at a Sena meeting, said “people of Maharashtra were not in favour of vendetta politics”.

State BJP president Chandrakant Patil, however, said the investigation was started in 2010, when the then Congress chief minister Prithviraj Chavan found that loans were given by going out of the way and their recovery was not happening. “[Sharad] Pawar is working in public life since past many years. His contribution is big in the development of Maharashtra. No attempt has been made to create trouble or defame anyone. The action was started on the directives of the high court,” Patil said.

First Published: Sep 29, 2019 00:54 IST

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