MUMBAI: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar on Friday dropped his plan to visit the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office here on a request from the agency and top police officers.
The ED had initiated a probe against Pawar in the Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank (MSC Bank) scam. Though not summoned, Pawar decided to visit the agency’s office to get knowledge about the case.
The ED office is located at Ballard Pier in South Mumbai.
The NCP party workers had decided to gather near the office to support Pawar. The police deployed extra force and imposed prohibitory orders outside the ED office.
The police were deployed all along the way from Pawar’s residence at Silver Oak at Pedder Road to the ED office at Ballard Pier.
Security was tightened and nakabandi was carried out on highways entering Mumbai.
All senior leaders of NCP gathered at Pawar’s residence. Jayant Patil, Dhananjay Munde, Nawab Malik, Jitendra Avhad, Rohit Pawar were present at Silver Oak to decide the course of action.
After the discussion, Pawar appealed to the party cadre to be calm. “Don’t behave in a way that will put more burden on the police force to maintain law and order,” said Pawar.
At Ballard Pier, NCP workers gathered in huge numbers, despite the restrictions by the police. The police blocked all roads towards the ED office and NCP office in Ballard Pier. The BEST buses were diverted and some routes terminated at Nagar Chowk.
At 9 am, Joint Commissioner of Police Vinay Chaube visited Pawar and requested him not to visit the ED office as it would create law and order situation.
Pawar again discussed this with the party leaders, but the party cadre was much aggressive hence the leaders could not decide.
Later on, Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve visited Pawar and requested him to cancel his visit to maintain law and order in Maharashtra.
After the CP’s visit, Pawar addressed the media outside his residence, stating that Mumbai Police Commissioner and Joint Commissioner of Police (CP) visited him at his residence, asking him to comply with ED’s email and not visit the office on Friday as prohibitory orders are in place.
Pawar also expressed concern over this home constituency, Baramati that was recently hit by floods and said his first priority is to visit the constituency than to visit the ED office.
“I am worried about people in my constituency and will be leaving for Baramati soon to gauge the damage done by the floods,” he said.
“As a former chief minister, in view of maintaining law and order, I have decided to not visit ED’s office today,” he said.
“If I visit the ED office, it would create a problematic situation for the common man, hence I decided to call off the visit,” Pawar said.
He thanked the people of Maharashtra and all political parties that supported him. He added that he would be touring the state ahead of the Assembly elections.
Earlier on Thursday evening, the ED had written to Pawar, asking him not to visit its office on Friday as he was not summoned by the agency.
Again the ED sent another mail to Pawar in the morning adding that when he is required, the probe agency would intimate him.
The registration of the case against Pawar drew angry reactions from the NCP whose workers staged protests in Mumbai, Aurangabad, Solapur, Beed, Thane, Nashik and his home turf Baramati in Pune district, among other parts of the State.
Meanwhile, ED officials said the decision to question any person in a case is the prerogative of the investigating officer and such a decision is taken when there are reasons to do so.
The ED has filed a money laundering case against Pawar, his nephew Ajit Pawar, a former deputy chief minister and 70 others in connection with the scam. An Enforcement Case Information Report, equivalent to a police FIR, has been registered by the central agency under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The case is based on a Mumbai Police FIR which had named the former chairmen of the bank.
NCP Mumbai Unit President Nawab Malik termed the ED case as politically motivated. “As the assembly elections are round the corner, the BJP-led government is trying to malign the NCP and its leadership. They are trying to defeat the party at all levels,” he said.