I-T department raids firms connected to Ajit Pawar’s relatives

NCP leader and Maharashtra deputy CM Ajit Pawar in Mumbai. File photo   | Photo Credit: VIVEK BENDRE

The Income Tax (I-T) Department on Thursday morning raided in multiple districts of Maharashtra a number of firms said to be owned by relatives or persons close to Deputy Chief Minister and senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar.

According to sources, the raids began sometime at 7 a.m. in sugar factories and other businesses sited in Pune, Satara and Kolhapur districts among other places.

Mr. Pawar said, “While it is true that the I-T Department has raided some companies related to me. Given that I’m the Finance Minister, I am very well acquainted with income tax rules and have always maintained stern fiscal discipline. Hence, my companies have never defaulted on paying taxes.”

It was the I-T Department’s right to conduct a raid on whatever concern they felt suspicious about. The question of whether or not the raids had a political motive or whether the authorities were after any other information could be answered only by the department, he stated.

“I only feel sad that the authorities have raided companies belonging to three of my sisters… One of them stays in Kolhapur and other two in Pune. Why did they do this, I cannot fathom? They have been conducting their businesses very smoothly for several years,” observed Mr. Pawar. He failed to understand the reason behind the raids, he remarked.

“If the raids were conducted just because they are my sisters, then the people of Maharashtra should think about the low level of politics being played in the form of the misuse of central agencies,” he noted.

Mr. Pawar refused to comment on whether the raids were a ploy [on the Central Government’s part] to undermine the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government of the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress. It was indeed surprising why factories owned by leaders of the BJP were never raided, he said.

“When elections are held the next time, the people, who are seeing how those currently in power [BJP] are abusing it, will think twice whether or not to vote for them... We have seen many such examples [Central agencies hounding non-BJP leaders] till now,” he added.

I-T teams raided the Daund Suga Factory in the Pawar clan’s stronghold of Baramati, the Jarandeshwar sugar factory in Satara district, the Ambalika sugar factory in Ahmednagar and Schreiber Dynamix Dairies (also in Baramati) among other businesses, said sources, adding that CRPF jawans stood guard outside the premises of these concerns while the authorities went through relevant documents.

In July last, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) attached assets of over ₹65 crore of the Satara-based Jarandeshwar cooperative sugar factory, which was run by one of Mr. Pawar’s relatives, as part of its probe into the Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank scam. At the time, Mr. Pawar had denied all links with the firm.

The NCP leadership described the I-T raids as part of a conspiracy on the BJP’s part to destroy their leaders in the State. Party’s State president Jayant Patil, who is also the Water Resources Minister, said: “there is no doubt that this is a plot of the BJP’s leaders to destroy and defame the NCP’s leadership. It is worth asking why the BJP is bent upon harassing the NCP…This has become a trend now. The BJP leaders take our names and ED, CBI raids follow soon after.”

‘NCP leaders blameless’

He asserted that the party had full faith in the law. He pointed out how senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal was similarly troubled, but was ultimately acquitted by the courts. “All NCP leaders are blameless… By conducting raids with a sensationalist flourish, like swooping down at morning, only fuels suspicions of how central agencies have become puppets in the hand of the BJP-led Centre.”

NCP Minister Nawab Malik said the BJP was mistaken in thinking that such raids would scare the Shiv Sena, the NCP or the Congress leadership. “On the contrary, this will further strengthen the MVA alliance. The public will give the BJP a fitting response in the next general and Assembly elections.”

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2021 12:16:32 PM |

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