Kohinoor CTNL, a company founded by Unmesh Joshi, son of former chief minister and senior Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi, being under the probe of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Serious Fraud Investigation Office grabbed headlines for the last few days as the agencies are investigating IL&FS group’s loan and equity investment amounting to Rs 860 crore in Kohinoor CTNL. Along with Unmesh, the probe also includes the names of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray and his business partner Rajan Shirodkar. Investigating agencies are probing the shareholding and investment in the company for which a consortium was formed by the three mentioned above to purchase Kohinoor Mills Number 3 for Rs 421 crore.
Talks around the probe on Raj Thackeray came at a time when the MNS chief was hitting the headlines with his recent drive to fight against the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). Raising doubts over the credibility of EVMs, Thackeray has demanded that ballot papers should be used in the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly elections. He is also meeting political leaders across the nation in order to build a nationwide platform on the issue.
BJP spokesperson Avdhut Wagh told Afternoon Voice, “Enforcement Directorate works as an independent organisation and works without taking anybody’s side. Without evidence ED doesn’t call anyone for investigation. Sometimes more time is required to gather evidence so backdated crimes too are probed.”
While the ruling governments in both the Centre and Maharashtra denied any need to bring back ballot paper in the electoral system, a large number of opposition parties are raising questions on the trustworthiness of Electronic Voting Machines. Raj Thackeray, despite not fielding a candidate in the recently held Lok Sabha polls, overnight became a stronger voice of opposition against PM Modi in Maharashtra although he, in 2014, endorsed Narendra Modi as the PM candidate.
MNS leader Prakash Pawar said, “The Kohinoor case is old and Raj Thackeray is not related with it. The government is trying to pressurise Raj as he had raised questions about the authenticity of electronic voting machines.”
Joining hands with the Congress-NCP alliance and at the same time without sharing the stage with any of its leaders, Thackeray held multiple rallies and brutally tore into BJP, the Prime Minister, and Maharashtra government’s alliance party Shiv Sena for their unfulfilled promises. He attacked PM Modi over the suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama that killed 40 CRPF soldiers and highlighted newspaper articles and clips of PM Modi’s speeches to highlight inconsistencies in the statements on several issues like Aadhaar and handling of the Kashmir issue.
Recently, Raj Thackeray met Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata on July 31 and discussed issues related to EVMs and electoral reforms. He called for the return of ballot papers in elections. Raj Thackeray said, “We want the Maharashtra Assembly elections to be conducted through the ballot papers.” The MNS chief said that he came to Kolkata to also invite CM Mamata Banerjee for a ‘Save Democracy’ programme to be held in Maharashtra on August 21.