Taking a stand against functioning of central agencies in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday said if BJP wanted power in Maharashtra so badly, he was ready to be arrested but the party should stop using central agencies against family members.
“You want power. I will come with you. Arrest me. I will take care of my workers. But stop harassing family members. Stop troubling my party workers using central agencies,” Mr. Thackeray said in the Assembly while replying to a resolution moved by the Opposition on the last day of the Budget session.
The Chief Minister’s statement comes days after property belonging to his brother-in-law Shridhar Patankar was recently attached by the ED in an ongoing money laundering probe.
Mr. Thackeray clarified that no matter how vindictive the central agencies, there is no question of backing down in the face of action against party leaders and cadres.
Backs Nawab Malik
The Chief Minister also rejected the demand for the ouster from the State Cabinet of Mr. Nawab who has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in an alleged money laundering case linked to gangster Dawood Ibrahim.
“Malik has been MLA five times. He has been minister. You (BJP) have been in power in Centre for eight years and in State for five years. Never once did any agency find anything against him, but now that he is vocal against you, suddenly a Dawood connection is found,” he said.
“You accuse us of corruption. According to you all of us are either corrupt or have connections with Dawood. But had morning swearing in ceremony been successful, you would have been in power with Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik. Or had I come with you, my family members would have been safe,” said Mr. Thackeray, reminding the BJP of the unsuccessful attempts at government formation in 2019 with NCP leader Ajit Pawar.
Countering yet another allegation linking the appointment of Dr. Mudassar Lambey on State waqf board to ties with Dawood Ibrahim, Mr. Thackeray showed papers that Dr. Lambey’s appointment was made by the previous BJP-led government when BJP leader Vinod Tawde was Minority Affairs Minister.
In a scathing attack on the use of central investigating agencies, Mr. said the Enforcement Directorate was a household help of the BJP. “You prepare evidences, create papers. Give it to agencies and that is presented in front of court. Naturally, courts’ orders go against us,” he said.
Earlier, commenting on allegations by Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis of corruption in Shiv Sena-ruled Brihanmumabi Municipal Corporation (BMC), Mr. Thackeray pointed to a speech by Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari applauding the efforts of the civic body during the pandemic.
“From Central government to global agencies [all] applauded the efforts of BMC. But when you have no dignity to praise these efforts, only option for you is to claim corruption in everything,” he said.
The oppostion BJP expressed dissatisfaction over the reply from government and boycotted the Assembly.