I am ready to go to jail but do not defame my family: Uddhav Thackeray to BJP

Days after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) took action against his brother-in-law, a combative Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday said in the state Assembly that he was ready to go to jail if the BJP wanted power but it should not harass his family members.

Speaking on the last day of Budget session, Thackeray said former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had the courage to declare Emergency while the BJP has ushered in an “undeclared Emergency”.

He also asked Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde to conduct a probe into a proposal of Rs 10,269-crore cost escalation in Metro work during the previous Devendra Fadnavis government in the state, and trashed corruption allegations against the Shiv Sena-controlled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC ).

The ED earlier this week attached assets worth Rs 6.45 crore of a company owned by Shridhar Madhav Patankar, Thackeray’s brother-in-law, in connection with a money laundering investigation.

“I am telling you (the BJP) in front of all. You want power, right? Do not go collecting pen drives (referring to BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis submitting` evidence ‘in a pen drive). Its sale goes up.… I am saying I will go with you. Not for power. The things you are doing now, defaming my family members, seizing their assets, I am not afraid of such actions, “Thackeray said.

“We did not defame your family members… I will come along with you. Jail me,” he added.

Allegations are made up when action is taken against any non-BJP leader or his or her relatives, and the individuals against whom action is taken are not even given a hearing, the chief minister alleged.

“Evidence is fabricated, and then one is produced before court. What will a court do? It awards punishment based on what is produced before it,” he said.

Thackeray, who heads the Shiv Sena, said he was ready to take responsibility for his party workers’ ” sins’ ‘, if any. “But do not harass the Shiv Sena workers who saved Mumbai by risking their lives in 1992-92 (during riots),” he said.

Some BJP leaders were behaving as if they were agents or spokespersons of central probe agencies, Thackeray alleged.

“What else can be called the murder of democracy and law and order? Indira Gandhi had at least declared Emergency. This is an undeclared Emergency. She was not a coward. She had declared it. Good or bad, that’s a different issue. But she had the courage, “said Thackeray, whose party is now in alliance with Congress and NCP in Maharashtra.

The BJP wanted power in Mumbai even though it rules the country, the chief minister said.

He trashed allegations of corruption leveled by Devendra Fadnavis against the BMC, and hailed the corporation and the state government for taking steps to save lives during the coronavirus pandemic.

Thackeray also said the ruckus witnessed during Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s joint address to both the Houses did not behove a state like Maharashtra.

He also accused the Union government of not giving land for setting up car shed for Mumbai Metro, and not doing anything about granting the classical language tag for Marathi and resolving the Maharashtra-Karnataka boundary dispute.

He also asked Minister Eknath Shinde to try a proposal of Rs 10,269 crore cost escalation of Mumbai Metro project when Fadnavis was chief minister.

“Why did the cost escalate? Eknath ji, you should order a probe. It is a different case if the escalation was genuine. But how come the expenses increased suddenly? What is behind it?” he asked. On his part, Fadnavis said the chief minister did not reply to any of the issues he had raised in the House a day earlier.

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