A day after resigning from the Maharashtra Assembly, NCP leader Ajit Pawar said he quit the MLA post after his name surfaced in the alleged cooperative bank scam along with the senior Pawar.
“I apologise for hurting feelings of leaders, workers, and sympathisers by resigning without discussing with them,” Mr. Pawar said while addressing media persons at Y.B. Chavan centre in Mumbai.
Alleging fraud to the tune of ₹25,000 crore in the state-owned Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank between 2001 and 2011, the Enforcement Directorate has booked NCP chief Sharad Pawar, his nephew Ajit Pawar, and 70 other officials.
Refuting the allegations, Mr. Ajit Pawar questioned how a scam of Rs. 25,000 crore can happen when the bank only had deposits worth Rs. 11,000 crore. “The MSC bank is apex bank and it has to extend financial aid to sugar mills in trouble, sometimes bypassing rules,” he said.
NCP leader Ajit Pawar addressing press conference in Mumbai on Saturday. Photo: Emmanual Yogini
“Sharad Pawar was never a director of the bank. Just because he is my relative, he is being named,” Mr. Ajit Pawar claimed. “He was defamed because of me,” an emotional Mr. Ajit Pawar added.
Hinting a political motive behind the ED probe, Mr. Ajit Pawar also questioned the timing of the FIR. “Why did it come up ahead of elections? How come this inquiry of 2010 came up in 2019?” he asked.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Ajit Pawar met party chief and his uncle Sharad Pawar at his residence in Mumbai.
Mr. Sharad Pawar’s daughter and party MP Supriya Sule, who was advised rest after being diagnosed with dengue, was also present there. Nobody outside the family attended the meeting.
Mr. Ajit Pawar tendered his resignation on Friday evening, leaving NCP leaders and workers in shock. The resignation was accepted by Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade.