A team of 11 officers carried out raids on the minister’s properties and recorded Bhaskar Jadhav's statement statement
Maharashtra minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Bhaskar Jadhav is in a tight spot due to the lavish weddings of his son and daughter, with the Income-Tax department conducting raids on his properties in the city and some parts of the state.
A team of 11 officers carried out raids on the minister’s properties at Chiplun in Ratnagiri district and Karad in Satara district.
I-T sleuths have recorded Mr. Jadhav’s statement on Monday night at his Chiplun residence to determine the source of the wedding expenditure, and are also inquiring on the role of Karad-based Shah Constructions, who are said to have financed the food expenditure for the event.
The owner of Shah Constructions is alleged to be a contractor in the Koyna dam irrigation project.
Upset by the turn of events, Mr. Jadhav on Tuesday said that the raids were “unexpected”, and declared that he was willing to step down from active political life if it was established that any irrigation contractor’s money had found its way into the wedding expenses.
He further clarified that he had “no connection with any irrigation contractor”, and that he had merely given Mr. Shah the responsibility of catering the food.
The NCP minister was dealt a stern rap on his knuckles regarding the weddings by his boss, Party President Sharad Pawar, who stated that he had been “disturbed” by the needless extravagance, at a time when the state was in the midst of a severe drought.
“My life is an open book. The weddings weren’t conducted in any secrecy, nor is there something fishy regarding the expenditure,” he said, speaking to reporters at this residence here.
Defending the event, Mr. Jadhav said that three established families had funded the wedding.
“I’m not denying that the weddings weren’t huge affairs… but I had only invited 15000 people, whereas lakhs of guests, ranging from politicians to ordinary citizens, turned up. A lot of the guests who had come to give their blessings went without food,” he said, stating that he had apologized to Mr. Pawar immediately after the former expressed his ‘displeasure’ regarding the ostentatious flaunting of wealth at the event.
Owing to media reports, the perception of extravagance of the weddings had been hyped beyond belief, he said, ascribing the IT raids to such reports.
He, however, brushed aside suggestions that forces within the NCP were behind a conspiracy to oust him.
“The Party is a like a family, where are joys and sorrows are shared in equal measure,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party has demanded that Mr. Jadhav immediate step down from his post if money was found during IT raids.
Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council Vinod Tawde said that the BJP would bring up this issue of the extravagance of NCP leaders in the upcoming session of the State Legislature.
On the other hand, the embattled minister has found a sympathizer in senior NCP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who defended the weddings by stating there was no drought in the Konkan belt, which encompasses Ratnagiri district.