(Eds: Adds reaction of BJP and NCP)
Mumbai, Aug 19 (PTI) The MNS on Monday claimed that the Enforcement Directorate''s (ED) notice to party chief Raj Thackeray in a money laundering probe in the IL&FS alleged payment default case was issued out of "political vendetta", a charge denied by the ruling BJP.
Thackeray has been asked by the ED to appear before the investigating officer in the case on August 22, officials said.
Reacting to it, MNS spokesperson Sandeep Deshpande said, "Raj Thackeray created a sensation during the Lok Sabha poll campaign earlier this year. It had a significant impact on people and to avoid a similar challenge ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly elections, the ED has issued the notice."
"It is a case of political vendetta," he alleged while talking to reporters here.
Besides Thackeray, former Maharashtra chief minister and senior Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi''s son Unmesh Joshi has also been summoned by the ED in the same case.
The agency is probing Thackeray''s involvement in the case in connection with the IL&FS group''s loan equity investment in a company called Kohinoor CTNL.
The company was promoted by Unmesh Joshi and is constructing the Kohinoor Square towers in Mumbai.
"The Kohinoor deal is very old and Thackeray exited it long time back. I wonder why the Centre has come up with the inquiry notice so late," Deshpande said.
He alleged that the ED has "become a tool to suppress our voice".
"If the government takes any action with prejudice against Raj Thackeray, we will protest on streets," he added.
NCP leader Dhananjay Munde said the government was taking revenge against Thackeray because he had exposed "misdeeds" of the BJP in the run-up to Lok Sabha elections.
The MNS chief had addressed a string of rallies targetting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, though his party did not contest the polls.
"Why the government is digging out the case now? This is vendetta politics," Munde said in Jalna.
The Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council also accused the government of "muzzling" the voice of political opponents.
"Those who raise their voice against the Centre and state governments they are being threatened and falsely implicated," he said, adding that the current situation was "worse than Emergency".
However, senior BJP leader and Maharashtra Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan refuted the MNS'' charges, saying Thackeray need not worry if he has not done anything wrong.
Mahajan also said his party has no say in the ED''s functioning.
"If Raj has done nothing wrong in his Kohinoor deal, he should not worry about it. The notice has not been issued for any political reasons," Mahajan said.
"The Enforcement Directorate is an autonomous body. We have no say in its functioning," the minister said.
Meanwhile, Unmesh Joshi deposed before the central agency here on Monday and his statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), officials said.
Thackeray and Unmesh Joshi had jointly bid for some assets after creating a consortium, but later the MNS chief quit.
IL&FS invested over Rs 200 crore funds in Kohinoor CTNL and is said to have suffered a loss in the deal.
The ED last week filed its first charge sheet before a special court in Mumbai in the case and attached assets worth about Rs 570 crore.
It filed a money laundering case in this connection in February this year on the basis of an FIR filed by Delhi Police''s Economic Offences Wing (EOW).
In the charge sheet, the agency alleged that the senior management of IL&FS indulged in acts of commissions and omissions leading to illegal personal gains to them at the expense of the company. PTI ND COR GK NSK NSK
Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI