Raj Thackeray gets ED notice

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief has been asked to appear before the investigating officer of the case on August 22. (PTI file photo)

Amidst a move to forge Opposition unity in Maharashtra and calling for a ban on EVMs, Raj Thackeray has been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate in an old case.

Even as the ED has asked him to appear in its Mumbai regional office on August 22, some of the leaders of Raj's outfit, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), have indirectly threatened a Mumbai shutdown.

The Opposition Congress and NCP has alleged that it is a clear case of political witch-hunting at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah.

Raj, the estranged cousin of Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and nephew of the late Bal Thackeray, has been summoned in connection with a money laundering case involving debt-strapped and crisis-ridden IL&FS.

The ED has served notice to Raj and Unmesh Joshi, the son of former Maharashtra chief minister and senior Shiv Sena leader Dr Manohar Joshi in the case. Dr Joshi, who had also served as Lok Sabha speaker, was a close aide of late Bal Thackeray, the founder of Shiv Sena.

Unmesh's statement was recorded on Monday by the ED. The probe is in connection with the IL&FS group's loan equity investment of over Rs 850 crore in a company, Kohinoor CTNL. The company was promoted by Unmesh, which is constructing Mumbai's Kohinoor Square towers.

It may be recalled, Unmesh and Raj, had jointly bid for some assets after creating a consortium but the MNS president had reportedly quit it later.

"It is a case to openly to build pressure (on political opponents). No ED inquiry has been done against any top leader of BJP in past 5 to 6 yrs. We'll continue our fight against ‘Hitlershahi’," MNS leader and aide of Raj Thackeray, Sandeep Deshpande said.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Congress president Balasaheb Thorat said that Raj had raised a voice against the wrong policies of the government.  "We have also launched a campaign against EVMs by involving the Opposition parties," he said, adding that this was dictatorship of Modi and Shah.

“You speak out against them? Get an ED notice… What kind of dirty politics is being played," Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Council, Dhananjay Munde of NCP demanded, vowing that the people of the state will make the BJP-Sena bite the dust in the upcoming Assembly elections.

Of late, Raj has become close to NCP president Sharad Pawar and last month he had met Congress president Sonia Gandhi. During the Lok Sabha polls, while Raj's MNS did not contest, he addressed a dozen rallies targetting Modi-Shah duo. 

MNS threatens protest

The MNS leaders had threatened protests in Mumbai. "I am sure people will carry out bandh on their own as they love Raj saheb, if not, the (government) will face our ire," said Avinash Jadhav, MNS Thane chief.

MNS leader Abhijit Phanse said that the neither Raj nor MNS has given any bandh call. "However, if people shut down on their own, we cannot help as they love Raj saheb."

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