Opposition slams ED summons to Thackeray, Unmesh Joshi

Mumbai: The Maharashtra Opposition on Monday slammed the Enforcement Directorate (ED)’s move summoning Maharashtra Navnirman Sena President Raj Thackeray and ex-Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi’s son Unmesh in an IL&FS related case.

“This is nothing but bulldozing tactics by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government against the Opposition. Thackeray had raised several pertinent issues before the Lok Sabha elections and is now being targeted,” said state Congress President Balasaheb Thorat.

Thorat said instead of tackling burning issues like inflation, unemployment, the economic crises and farmers problems, the government was adopting “dictatorial tactics” to silence its critics.

Joshi Junior has been summoned by the ED on Monday, while Thackeray, his former business partner in realty firm Kohinoor CTNL, has been asked appear before it on August 22.

Shortly before entering the ED office, Joshi said: “I will fully cooperative with the ED. Let me understand the issue first.”

His father Manohar Joshi, a senior leader of ruling NDA ally Shiv Sena and former Maharashtra chief minister, wondered if the ED notice arose out of some “confusion”. Manohar Joshi hinted at meeting Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and may address the media later in the day.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)’s Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde said Thackeray had exposed the BJP-Sena during the election campaign and now he has been slapped with an ED notice.

“Speak out against us and you get an ED notice. What kind of dirty politics is being played?” asked Munde, vowing that the people of the state will make the BJP-Sena bite the dust in the upcoming Assembly elections.

“Narendra Modi is the new Hitler. Why are no BJP leaders being probed?” asked MNS spokesperson Sandeep Deshpande.

Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathan chief Raju Shetti termed the ED move against Thackeray a ‘witchhunt’ for criticising the Lok Sabha elections results and launching a campaign against Electronic Voting Machines (EVM).

“Anybody who attacks the government faces repercussions from the ED and the Income Tax Department. They are browbeaten but it will have no effect,” said Shetti.

In contrast, Shiv Sena spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut said he found “nothing unusual” in the ED move against Thackeray and Joshi.

The ED is investigating purported irregularities of the IL&FS’ loan and investments worth over Rs 850 crore in the Joshi-owned Kohinoor CTNL, a realty firm, which is building the Kohinoor Squares Tower in Dadar west.

Joshi Junior’s company and its investments have been under the scanner for having defaulted on an estimated Rs 135 crore of IL&FS.

Launched over a decade ago by Unmesh Joshi, Thackeray and another business associate, Kohinoor CTNL was planning to buy the defunct Kohinoor Mills No. 3 for Rs 421 crore, in which the IL&FS had pumped in Rs 225 crore.

Suddenly, in 2008, the IL&FS reportedly backed out of the deal and surrendered its shares for only Rs 90 crore, suffering a huge loss. Subsequently, Thackeray too exited after selling his shares.

Later, the IL&FS extended loans to Kohinoor CTNL on which it defaulted.

In 2017, the company entered an agreement to sell some commercial and residential properties in the upcoming Kohinoor Square Towers to IL&FS to settle an outstanding of around Rs 500 crore in loans. Following this, IL&FS extended another Rs 100 crore to Kohinoor CTNL on which it defaulted.

Incidentally, Joshi’s Kohinoor Group — founded by his father Manohar Joshi — which earlier controlled the Kohinoor CTNL, is now under control of another Prabhadevi-based company.