The anti-corruption crusader and social activist Anna Hazare today expressed surprise over the inclusion of Sharad Pawar in the money laundering case in the multi-crore Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank scam.
Anna Hazare, who is known for galvanising the people of the country with his anti-corruption drive and demand for a Lokpal bill in 2011 was thoroughly flabbergasted to find Pawar’s name cropping up in the money laundering case.
“When this case came to me, Sharad Pawar’s name was not there anywhere. How did his name come up, who mentioned his name, all these things only they know,” Anna Hazare said on Thursday when asked about the ED case and Sharad Pawar’s alleged links to the scam.
The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday filed an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) and registered a money laundering case against Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, his nephew Ajit Pawar and several former directors of Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank in connection with a Rs 25,000-crore loan scam.
The Maharashtra State Co-operative bank scam, in which the ED has named Sharad Pawar, relates to the several loans that were granted to cooperative sugar factories (CSFs) in connivance with then senior officials of the co-operative bank with the purpose of siphoning off money, causing a huge loss to the bank.
The ED asserted that the complaint of whistleblower Surinder Arora has mentioned that sanction of dubious loans was made under the implicit directions of Sharad Pawar, who was controlling the cooperative sector in Maharashtra. The ED will be focusing its investigation on the money trail, diversion of funds and final beneficiaries of the bank scam.
Anna Hazare’s astonishment at Pawar’s inclusion in the money laundering case is in stark contrast to the views traditionally held by the social activist. In 2011, Anna Hazare made a tongue-in-cheek jibe at the physical assault on Sharad Pawar when a reporter sought his opinion on the slap delivered to Pawar. Hazare had then cheekily quipped, “Ek hi mara? (Just one slap?)”.