Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Sunday said the deliberate targeting of leaders in the ruling MVA alliance in Maharashtra by central agencies was harmful for the country's federal structure. Raut was responding to a query by reporters on the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summoning former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh in a money laundering case.
Deshmukh was asked to depose before the investigating officer at the ED's office in Mumbai on Saturday in the money laundering case related to an alleged multi-crore bribery-cum-extortion racket, that led to his resignation from the post of home minister in April.
However, the NCP leader, whose party shares power with the Shiv Sena and Congress in Maharashtra, sought a fresh date for appearance before the agency.
Talking to reporters, Raut also said Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik's letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray highlighted that the legislator was being unnecessarily harassed by the ED. He said if there are complaints, the state's Economic Offences Wing (EoW) or the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) can investigate them.
"But, central agencies are brought in under pressure to deliberately target...this is out of frustration over the inability to form government here," Raut alleged, and said "this is harmful for the federal structure".
Asked about Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Devendra Fadnavis's comment that he would quit politics if he failed to restore the OBC quota in local bodies in the state, Raut said the BJP leader in 2014 claimed he would get quota for the 'Dhangar' community passed in the first cabinet meeting after assuming power.
"He was in power for five years, but nothing happened. Whether in power or not, efforts must be taken to resolve issues of the deprived sections of society," the Rajya Sabha member said.
Raut said the issue of reservation is for ensuring social equality.
"Please don't politicise a social issue. Whether you are in government or opposition, a responsible leader should strive to resolve the issue which the MVA leaders are trying," Raut said.
Asked about protests by the BJP and the Congress in different parts of the state on the OBC quota issue, Raut said leaders, in government as well as from the opposition, are expected to behave appropriately at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Police took action against NCP functionaries for COVID-19 norm violations during an event, Raut said, adding that "everybody is expected to follow rules".