Tainted till yesterday, squeaky clean today: BJP’s ‘dhobi ghat’ at work in Mumbai

Many Nationalist Congress Party and the original Shiv Sena leaders who faced allegations of corruption or impropriety and investigations, have unabashedly jumped over to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and are now at peace. — IANS

Quaid Najm

Mumbai, July 8 (IANS) Many Nationalist Congress Party and the original Shiv Sena leaders who faced allegations of corruption or impropriety and investigations, have unabashedly jumped over to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and are now at peace.

Hounded by different central probe agencies and damned for years under a hanging sword, many of the ‘defector leaders’ have found succour – and as one leader said publicly, “sleep peacefully at night” – with sweet dreams of ‘khokhas’.

In contrast, those bravehearts who stuck on and did not desert their parties, get a tormented sleep, either at home, or – for the unlucky few, in their jail cells – and they remain hunted or haunted.

In some cases, a few leaders are having sleepless nights as some of their relatives have also been brought under the scanner of the probe agencies.

Among the latest big names are the breakaway NCP’s new and second Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Chhagan Bhujbal, Hasan Mushrif and Sunil Tatkare.

Earlier, there were the original Shiv Sena’s MP Bhawana Gawli, Vijaykumar Gavit, Abdul Sattar, Tanaji Sawant, Sanjay Rathod, Shiv Sena (UBT)’s MPs Sanjay Raut, Pratap Sarnaik, Yashwant Jadhav, Arjun Khotkar, under the scanner of one or multiple central probe agencies in cases of alleged corruption, money laundering, amassing wealth etc.

While most are facing excruciating enquiries, questioning or interrogation for hours and days, some like Sanjay Raut were shunted off for a 100-day stint in jail, The NCP’s Anil Deshmukh spent 13 months in prison and Nawab Malik is cooling his heels for the past 18 months.

There are some others like former ministers Anil Parab and Ravindra Waikar who are being probed or grilled in different cases by various agencies, and ex-Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar, who is also under pressure from the investigators.

With political niceties junked long ago, the probes were not merely limited to the targeted leaders alone, but went much beyond, to their non-political family members or in-laws, as in the case of the new breakaway NCP’s Deputy CM Ajit Pawar and Shiv Sena (UBT)’s ex-CM Uddhav Thackeray.

Not involved in any direct corruption activities per se, two other leaders are Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Rathod and NCP’s Dhananjay Munde, whose  names cropped up in cases involving women, one for a suspicious murder and the other for alleged sexual harassment, though they have stoutly denied any wrongdoing.

Rattled by the deep probes and their deeper ramifications, some like Sarnaik had made a desperate plea to Thackeray (prior to the split) to kiss and make up with the BJP to avoid the harassment by the central agencies’ and their no-nonsense sleuths.

When Shinde led the rebellion in June 2022, Sarnaik was among the first to head for the door and hug their new ‘saviour’ – and is now a much-relaxed, satisfied and happy man.

A few daring but despairing leaders made unsuccessful attempts on these lines during internal party meetings or direct confrontation with the party high command, but were disappointed.

Without turning around or batting an eyelid, they decided to take the ‘dhobi-ghat’ option, waiting for their plunge without invitation and most are now self-patting themselves on their right moves…and sleep ‘tight’…!

The cases many leaders face range from allegedly questionable financial deals, underworld links, local bank scams, generating hush money through sale-purchases involving shell companies, under-invoicing of assets, murky trading activities, suspicious business concerning sugar factories, indulging in black money transactions, creating assets in own names or ‘benami’ properties, amassing huge wealth beyond their known sources of income, etc., with amounts ranging from a few lakhs to hundreds of crores of rupees.

The agencies opening the ‘black files’ ranged from the local police, the Anti Corruption Bureau, Central Bureau of Investigation, Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax Department, with others like the Department of Revenue Intelligence, Narcotics Control Bureau, et al apparently waiting in the wings to strike. Some of the cases were ‘inspired’ by the BJP’s disgruntled leaders having an axe to grind for certain historical slights or political wrongs against their opponents, and the central agencies appeared to lend a helping hand to set them ‘right’.

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