Leader of Sharad Pawar's Party Subjected to Lengthy Interrogation by ED

The Opposition strongly reacted to Jayant Patil's questioning, accusing it of being driven by "vendetta" and labeling it as a display of "dictatorship

Jayant Patil, the leader of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra, faced an extensive questioning session by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) lasting over nine hours. The questioning was related to an alleged money laundering case connected to financial irregularities at the defunct firm IL&FS. The opposition reacted strongly to this development, accusing it of being politically motivated and indicating a sense of "vendetta" and "dictatorship."

Patil arrived at the ED office in south Mumbai accompanied by a significant number of party supporters and left late in the evening, around 9:25 p.m.

"After questioning him for over nine hours, Jayant Patil was allowed to go," an official said.

After Jayant Patil came out of the ED office, he was surrounded by workers and leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party. Addressing the crowd of party workers and reporters, Patil stated that he had cooperated with the Enforcement Directorate during the questioning.

Patil's statement

"I answered all the questions of Enforcement Directorate officials. I cooperated with them while recording my statement. I never did wrong things in my life," he said amid sloganeering by party activists.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar suggested that the action taken against certain leaders of his party could be a consequence of their failure to meet the "expectations" of the ruling dispensation.

Pawar's words

"A possibility cannot be denied that the current dispensation has had some expectations from some 9–10 leaders of the NCP. We are not ready to meet those expectations and are ready to pay the price for our stand. We will never leave the path we have chosen," he said in a veiled attack on the BJP-led Central government.

Pawar said he has a list of around 10 key leaders who have faced inquiries. "Some of them even faced action by these agencies," he said.

Thackeray's comment

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray claimed the country was transitioning from democracy to a dictatorial regime. "Those who side with the truth, which is sometimes against the government, are being pressurised with the help of central probe agencies, and this pattern can be seen across the country," he told reporters at Nagpur airport.

NCP leader and Lok Sabha member Supriya Sule said, "Of all the ED or CBI cases in the last few years, 90 to 95 per cent are against the Opposition leaders in the country. This has been widely reported by the media as well. The one who is in opposition easily gets notices from the probe agencies."

Patil, aged 61, who serves as the representative for the Islampur seat in Sangli district, was initially summoned by the ED to appear on May 12. However, he requested a deferment of around 10 days, citing personal and official commitments. Eventually, he was asked to appear on May 22.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis stated that Patil may have been summoned based on information possessed by the investigating agencies.

Statement by Fadnavis

"Jayant Patil need not be afraid if he has not done anything (wrong). Central agencies or state agencies are doing their work. He must have been summoned because probe agencies might be having some information or a case against him," said Fadnavis, who holds the Home portfolio.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is investigating the alleged payment of a "commission amount" by certain accused companies to entities connected to Mr. Patil. The agency has taken renewed action in the case since 2019 after conducting searches at the Mumbai offices of Deloitte Haskins and Sells and BSR and Associates, which are former auditors of IL&FS and an Indian affiliate of global accounting firm KPMG, respectively. The ED is examining these transactions as part of its ongoing probe.