Income Tax raid on Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray's close aides
The residence and offices of close aides of Maharashtra ministers Aaditya Thackeray and Anil Parab faced raids by the Income Tax Department. I-T officials raided 12 locations in Mumbai linked to Rahul Kanal (a leader of Maharashtra's ruling Shiv Sena), Sadanand Kadam (the brother of Sena leader Ramdas Kadam), and deputy regional transport officer Bajrang Kharmate. Reportedly, overall 20 locations were raided across Maharashtra.
Why does this story matter?
The I-T raids came hours before Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut's "expose" against the Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre has repeatedly been accused of misusing central agencies for personal vendetta. The two parties, who were formerly allies, also don't see eye-to-eye since a falling out during the 2019 Maharashtra elections.
How is everyone related?
Aaditya Thackeray is in-charge of the environment and tourism departments in Maharashtra. He is also the son of Sena chief and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. Kanal is a close confidante of Aaditya Thackeray and a trustee of Shirdi's Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust. Kadam is the business partner of Parab, Maharashtra's transport minister. Kharmate is also said to be close to Parab.
Maharashtra will not bow down: Thackeray
Following the raids, Aaditya Thackeray said central agencies have been exploited in the past. "This happened in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and now it's happening in Maharashtra," he said. He called the I-T Department and other central agencies the BJP's "publicity machinery." "Maharashtra will not bow down," he added. Raut also called the raids a "tactic to pressurize and destabilize the Maharashtra government."
How are the raids related to the ED?
"The Mumbai Police will begin the investigation of a criminal syndicate and extortion racket by a nexus of ED officials," Raut said, alleging that ED officers are extorting "contractors, developers, and builders." Raut called the ED the BJP's "ATM" adding, "Some ED officials are contesting elections on BJP tickets." He said proof of the extortion allegations had been submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Shiv Sena leader's home was raided last month
I-T officials had raided the home of Shiv Sena leader and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) standing committee chairperson Yeshwant Jadhav last month. Premises linked to several BMC contractors were also raided. I-T officials had then found immovable properties worth over Rs. 130 crore linked to Jadhav, his family, and his close aides. Jadhav and the other BMC contractors faced allegations of corruption and cartelization.
ED questioned Kharmate regarding Anil Deshmukh
Notably, Kharmate had earlier been questioned by the ED regarding the probe against former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. The ED had taken his statement regarding the transfer posting issue in the state's home and transport departments.