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Thursday, Nov 21, 2019

NCP plans show of strength near ED office, but Sharad Pawar urges for calm

A day after the ED booked him in a money-laundering case in connection with the alleged Rs 25,000-crore MSC Bank scam, NCP chief Sharad Pawar announced his decision to give his statement to the ED, as he would be busy with campaigning next month.

mumbai Updated: Sep 27, 2019 07:18 IST
Faisal Malik
Faisal Malik
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
NCP Party workers stage protest ED probe against NCP Chief Sharad Pawar in Maharashtra State Cooperative (MSC) Bank, Navi Mumbai,  Thursday, September 26, 2019.
NCP Party workers stage protest ED probe against NCP Chief Sharad Pawar in Maharashtra State Cooperative (MSC) Bank, Navi Mumbai, Thursday, September 26, 2019. (Bachchan Kumar / HT Photo )
         

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) may put up a show of strength on Friday, when party chief Sharad Pawar heads to the Mumbai office of Enforcement Directorate (ED), in connection with the Maharashtra State Cooperative (MSC) Bank case. Pawar has urged party workers to not gather near the ED office.

“As mentioned during my press conference on Wednesday, I will be visiting the Mumbai ED office at Ballard Estate on Friday at 14.00 hrs,” Pawar tweeted on Thursday. “I appeal to all my NCP cadre and supporters not to gather near the ED office premises. Keeping our tradition to honour the Constitution and respect for institutions, I request your co-operation to the police and other government agencies. Please take care and make sure that people are not inconvenienced.”

A day after the ED booked him in a money-laundering case in connection with the alleged Rs 25,000-crore MSC Bank scam, Pawar announced his decision to give his statement to the ED, as he would be busy with campaigning next month. MSC Bank is an apex body for all district central cooperative (DCC) banks in the state.

“We are expecting some hundreds of workers from across the state. They have been asked to gather at the party office and not the ED office,” said a senior NCP functionary. “Senior leaders may accompany Pawar to the ED office,” he added.

The case pertains to loans provided by the MSC Bank to co-operative sugar factories, spinning mills and other processing units. It is alleged that these loans were given without considering the financial conditions of the cooperative units.

Pawar has clarified that he was never the director of any of the banks and questioned the timing of the action ahead of the Assembly polls in the state. Pawar is on a statewide tour to meet party cadre, after the exodus of senior leaders and sitting legislators. Only last week, Pawar has said that he has never been in jail for his actions, in a dig at Union home minister Amit Shah after the latter questioned Pawar’s contribution to address farmers’ distress in Maharashtra.

Social media campaign

With NCP chief Sharad Pawar going to the Mumbai office of the ED on Friday, the party on Thursday started a campaign on social media as ‘Mee Yetoye’ (I am coming). NCP activists were found running the campaign on Facebook and Twitter with hashtags — #iamwithsharadpawarsaheb #saheb. The move is an attempt to mobilise party workers and prepare for a show of strength on Friday.

Hazare’s clean chit to Pawar?

Social activist Anna Hazare on Thursday said the evidence of irregularities he shared did not have NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s name.

“I don’t know how Pawar’s name has come up in the MSC Bank scam. The case needs to be investigated and offenders must face action. Those who are innocent shouldn’t be implicated unnecessarily,” Hazare
said.

“The evidence I shared doesn’t have Pawar’s name and that’s a fact. It is unfair to make false allegations. In my view, the officers should be punished for inaction in the case despite having all the evidence,” the activist added.