Mumbai, 23/2: Maharashtra’s minority affairs minister and NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik on Wednesday was taken to the office of the Enforcement Directorate where he is being questioned.
Malik (62), a veteran politician, is a close aide of NCP founder-president Sharad Pawar.
A key member of the strategy team of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government, Malik has been stonewalling the BJP attacks on the tri-party dispensation that has kept the saffron party out of power.
There was no official confirmation from the ED. However, NCP leaders said that Malik was taken to the ED office without any summons.
The MVA allies — Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress — have come to the defence of Malik.
“It is an absolute misuse of power…without any notice, he has been taken to the ED office. Some people are trying to trouble him. In what connection he has taken, we are not aware,” said state NCP president and water resources minister Jayant Patil.
Reports, however, said that Malik is being probed in connection with a case of money laundering that has been registered against fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his Mumbai-based brother Iqbal Kaskar, who is under arrest.
“The central agencies are being used by the BJP to target political opponents,” NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said.
Senior leaders including Pawar, his nephew Ajit Pawar and home minister Dilip Walse-Patil have not commented so far.
Shiv Sena chief spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut said: “Nawab Malik is a senior leader. He is a Cabinet minister. He has been taken to the ED office… Nawab Malik speaks truth and you all know that… it is a challenge offered to MVA. Let them probe, but after 2024 we will also probe.”
Raut said that he had furnished information on various deals of BJP leader Kirit Somaiya and his family members, however, no action has been taken. “The ED has put that in the washing machine,” he said.
Maharashtra Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant said: “The central agencies — ED, IT, CBI are working at the behest of BJP. This is a misuse of power. The agencies seem to be working for a political party.”
Senior BJP leader Girish Mahajan said, “Malik has nothing to fear. Whatever the ED asks, he should reply… For everything, you cannot blame the Narendra Modi government. ED, I-T, CBI are independent agencies.”
Meanwhile, Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule said: “Nawab Bhai is a cabinet minister…whether there was a notice by ED? To my information no… I spoke to his family and they told me that Nawab Bhai will give all the information (needed by ED) in a transparent manner.”