NEW DELHI :
As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) inches towards victory in the Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections, the campaign brought the spotlight back on corruption cases and pending investigations against senior opposition leaders in both states.
While two of the tallest leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) – Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel in the crosshairs with the law, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has, in recent weeks, turned up the heat on both – lending greater credence to the BJP’s anti-corruption narrative.
While the Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra faces a drubbing at the hands of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, further north, in Haryana, the incumbent Manohar Lal Khattar-BJP government is all set to make a comeback with rival Bhupinder Singh Hooda embroiled in a protracted land allotment case with investigation agencies Central Bureau of Investigation and the ED.
As campaigning was well underway in Maharashtra, high drama ensued as the ED registered a case of money laundering against NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar, in September in connection with the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) scam case to the tune of ₹25,000 crore.
While Sharad Pawar set the wheels in motion to clear his name in the case by declaring that he would visit the ED office in New Delhi – minus any summons – Ajit Pawar, on 28 September resigned as NCP legislator, after announcing at a press conference that the senior leader had had to endure the defamation owing to him.
At the same time, in August, the ED also filed a chargesheet against former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in the case of Panchkula land allotment to the Congress-promoted Associated Journals Limited (AJL).
While the BJP, which came back to power in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections with a thumping majority, has been reiterating its anti-corruption stance, the cases against the tallest leaders in both states, and the ongoing crackdowns have further crystallized the ruling BJP’s stronghold across both these states.