Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and former rural development minister in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra, Hasan Mushrif is under the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED’s) scanner in an alleged corruption case related to a sugar mill. Places linked to Mushrif were raided by the agency. In 2019, the Income Tax Department similarly raided Mushrif’s residences and factory premises. The opposition MVA hit out at the ED raid, with NCP MP Supriya Sule and Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut accusing the Shinde-Fadnavis govt. of misusing investigating agencies to target opposition leaders.
Multiple teams formed by the investigation agency conducted searches at locations linked to the NCP leader in Pune and Kolhapur. However, Mushrif has alleged that the development came as a result of a ‘political vendetta’ against him. It is important to note that Mushrif is accused in a Rs 100-crore corruption case linked to a sugar mill in Kolhapur through a private firm allegedly owned and controlled by his relatives.
Hasan Mushrif, an MLA from Kolhapur’s Kagal Assembly constituency, is one of the senior-most leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and is believed to be the loyalist of the party chief Sharad Pawar. Notably, Mushrif has consistently been elected from Kagal since 1999. He is an influential leader in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur district and is close to Sharad Pawar. He was also one of the key leaders who stood with the NCP chief in 2019 when Ajit Pawar rebelled against him.
On 10 January 2017, Mushrif, along with NCP MP Dhananjay Mahadik, former NCP MP Nivedita Sambhajirao Mane, Kolhapur mayor Hasina Faras, and 400 others, were arrested for blocking traffic on the Pune-Bengaluru national highway as part of a protest against the effects of demonetisation. He is always vocal against BJP leaders. Presently all powerful leaders are on the radar because that is the way opposition can be weakened in the state.
BJP leaders in Maharashtra think that central investigation agencies like ED, and CBI are in their pockets and at their behest, they can threaten political opponents. BJP’s only policy is to divide the opposition or force them to quit the party. At least 14 Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leaders were investigated by central agencies, including the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Income Tax (IT) department and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). While many of them were under the scanner of the ED for alleged money laundering, a bulk of them are also being probed for alleged tax evasion by the IT department. Two of these leaders were arrested by the ED. Most of the probes were initiated after the MVA formed the government in Maharashtra.
Anil Deshmukh was arrested on November 2 last year in connection with an extortion case for allegedly demanding Rs 100 crore of ‘‘good luck” money from orchestra bars and restaurants for their “smooth functioning”. On December 29, the ED filed a supplementary charge sheet in the case against Deshmukh, calling him the “prime mover” in the case. The ED said its probe revealed that at least 13 companies, which are directly controlled by family members of Deshmukh and at least 14 which the family-controlled through close associates, were utilised for the purpose of “infusion of ill-gotten money of Deshmukh”. The ED has attached assets worth Rs 4.20 crore. He was in jail for one year but nothing could be proven against him and he recently got bail. Sanjay Raut was also arrested and many stories were made against him, he was in jail for months but here also no guilt was proven and he is out on bail. Those who did not Bowdon to the pressure were harassed by ED and IT.
All others on the radar joined hands with Shinde and toppled the Thackeray government by joining hands with BJP. All those who were under the scanner are now given a clean chit. The ED attached assets worth Rs 11.35 crore of Pratap Sarnaik in a Rs 5,600 crore fraud linked to the National Spot Exchange Limited (NSEL) scam. According to the agency, one of the defaulters of NSEL, Aastha Group, diverted Rs 21.74 crore to Vihang Aastha Housing Project LLP between 2012-2013. Out of this, Rs 11.35 crore was transferred to Vihang Enterprises and Vihang Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, controlled by Sarnaik and his family, it said. Aastha Group owes Rs 242.66 crore to the NSEL. But since Sarnaik is with Eknath Shined, ED and IT maintained silence on him.
Every central government used CBI and ED-like agencies to ride the opposition. Be it now BJP or then the UPA. Earlier only CBI was taking opposition on Radar, but since Anna Hazare agitated against corruption the term economic offence became too much accustomed and here entered ED. Opposition always has fear for the CBI, regardless of who’s in power in Delhi. The Modi government is doing the same thing that Congress used to do: that is using a caged parrot to sing its tune. Now it seems to be more open and more ruthless in using it. However, this time the opposition is more fearful and the central government is more powerful. In the previous decade, we have seen state-level leaders being picked to target those who are making it difficult for BJP to retain and seize power.