Nanded: Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Thursday claimed Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut’s bail order indicated that the Enforcement Directorate was a “political weapon” in the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
A special court in Mumbai on Wednesday granted bail to Rajya Sabha member Raut in a money laundering case related to the Patra Chawl redevelopment project, saying his arrest was illegal and a “witch-hunt”.
Addressing a press conference during the Congress’s ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi here in Maharashtra, Ramesh said the special court has made scathing observations and the language used is clear that the central probe agency is being “used to intimidate, threaten and create fear among political opponents”.
“Raut’s bail order shows that the Enforcement Directorate is not an independent institution, but a political weapon in the hands of Modi and Shah,” Ramesh claimed.
He said there was no case to arrest Raut, who is the parliamentarian and the executive editor of ‘Saamana’, the mouthpiece of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena faction.
“We hope Sanjay Raut will continue to target the central government over different issues,” Ramesh said.
The former Union minister also alleged that the BJP was trying to destroy the cooperative sector, in which Maharashtra is a leader.
“The cooperative sector is being centralised in the hands of the Union home minister,” he claimed.
It is being done to hurt the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which are strong in this sector, he said.
“During the UPA rule, there was no tax on the cooperative sector, which changed after the Modi government took charge,” he said.
Informing about the Congress’ mass outreach programme, Ramesh said the party’s Odisha unit has already started a 2,200-km ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ from October 31.
Similar initiatives will be taken in Assam and Tripura this month, while the West Bengal unit will start the yatra in December.
Asked why the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra is not going through Gujarat where the Assembly elections are scheduled on December 1 and 5, he said the state is not on the route chosen for the foot march.
“If it (Gujarat) was chosen, then the entire state (Congress) unit there would have been involved in the arrangements for the yatra instead of the elections,” he said.
Ramesh also said that NCP chief Sharad Pawar will not be able to join the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Rahul Gandhi had spoken to Pawar (81) when he was recently hospitalised.
“Even though Pawar had agreed to join the yatra, he cannot do so as doctors have advised him rest,” Ramesh said.
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