NCP condemns ED raids on MLA Rohit Pawar’s Baramati Agro

ED action is part of money laundering probe linked to alleged MSC bank scam; searches conducted in Baramati, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, and Aurangabad; NCP says MLA’s yatra ‘hit a nerve’ and rattled the BJP

Updated - January 05, 2024 09:00 pm IST

Published - January 05, 2024 08:01 pm IST - MUMBAI

NCP MLA Rohit Pawar. File

NCP MLA Rohit Pawar. File | Photo Credit: ANI

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on January 5 conducted searches at six locations linked to Baramati Agro Private Limited, a firm owned by Nationalist Congress Party MLA Rohit Pawar, grandnephew of party supremo Sharad Pawar, as part of a money laundering probe connected to the alleged Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank scam. The NCP condemned the ED’s actions, alleging political motivations.

Searches were conducted in Baramati, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, and Aurangabad, sources told The Hindu. The 38-year-old first-time legislator from Karjat-Jamkhed was not available for comments; he is currently abroad on a family vacation.

Mr. Rohit Pawar is the nephew of Baramati MP Supriya Sule and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who represents the Baramati Assembly Constituency.

‘Politically motivated’

The Mumbai police and the ED are investigating the involvement of more than 70 leaders in the alleged scam, including 50 from the NCP, nine from the Congress, two from the Shiv Sena, and one from the BJP. Although Mr. Ajit Pawar is accused in the FIR, his uncle Mr. Sharad Pawar is not named in the case registered by Mumbai police, but the agency is probing his involvement.

Previously, the Pawars and the NCP had dismissed the case as politically motivated. It gained political importance, emerging as a focal point during the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly election, when the NCP patriarch volunteered to appear before the ED for interrogation.

According to officials, the probe against Mr. Rohit Pawar’s firm pertains to allegations of the diversion of funds and deposits of earnest funds of a company that bid for the purchase of an ailing Maharashtra-based cooperative factor. The complaint came after the Bombay High Court issued an order on August 22, 2019, to investigate the allegations that sugar factories in the Maharashtra cooperative sector had been sold through fraudulent means at throwaway prices.

‘Hit a nerve’

In 2020, when challenging the Mumbai police’s exoneration in the case, the ED informed the court that Baramati Agro not only supported another company’s bid to acquire a struggling cooperative sugar factory by funding the earnest deposits, but also financed the purchases through case credit from different banks intended for working capital, thereby engaging in the alleged diversion of funds.

Condemning the searches, the NCP faction led by Mr. Sharad Pawar stated that the recent Yuva Sangharsh Yatra by Mr. Rohit Pawar has unsettled the BJP. “He will come out stronger. It is clear that the Sangharsh Yatra has hit a nerve and made the BJP insecure,” NCP national spokesperson Clyde Crasto said, adding that the searches would not deter Mr. Rohit Pawar from continuing his party work. The first-time MLA had led the foot march from Pune to Nagpur late last year to highlight the issues faced by youths in Maharashtra.

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