Why has Kirit Somaiya suddenly fell silent on 'corruption'?

The BJP leader’s litany of corruption has abruptly stopped after most politicians he targeted shifted their loyalties to the Eknath Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena and the BJP

Eknath Shinde and the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs
Eknath Shinde and the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs

Navin Kumar/Mumbai

Shiv Sena legislator in Maharashtra Pratap Sarnaik and his son were questioned by ED before the central agency attached property worth Rs 11.35 crore. This was after BJP’s Kirit Somaiya complained to ED against Sarnaik of a Rs 250 crore fraud.

Sarnaik in turn had threatened Somaiya with a defamation case and accused Somaiya’s wife of defrauding the exchequer in the construction of toilets. But after the initial interest shown by ED to investigate the allegation against Sarnaik, all is quiet on that front after Sarnaik shifted his loyalties to BJP along with Eknath Shinde. The ED has shown no interest in investigating charges against Somaiya.

Somaiya had also accused Shiv Sena MP Bhavna Gawli of financial embezzlement worth Rs 100 crore. While the allegations were related to five educational institutions operated by Gawli, Somaiya had also accused her of buying a factory worth Rs 55 crore for a pittance of Rs 25 lakh. Despite being summoned, Gawli failed to appear before the ED. Now that she too is with the Shinde group and Somaiya, one no longer hears of any fresh summons to her.

Kirit Somaiya
Kirit Somaiya

Somaiya had also targeted Yashwant Jadhav and his legislator wife Yamini Jadhav. Following Somaiya’s complaint against them in a Rs 1,000 crore scam, Income Tax Department had seized the couple’s 40 properties including 31 flats in Byculla and two flats in Bandra worth Rs 5 crore each.

Somaiya had made the sensational allegation that the couple had bought in the last two years 1,000 flats, shops and office space in Mumbai. But ever since the couple have switched their loyalties to the Shinde camp, both Somaiya and the Income Tax Department have been quiet, raising no stink in the matter.

Somaiya and Ravi Rana had complained to ED of a Rs 1,000 crore embezzlement by former Shiv Sena MP Anandrao Adsul. But he too has joined the Shinde group and is confident that ED will not target him now.

The Enforcement Directorate had attached property worth Rs 78.38 crore of another Shiv Sena leader Arjun Khotkar, again following Somaiya’s complaint related to purchase of cooperative sugar mills. Khotkar was a minister in the government headed by Devendra Fadnavis.

Former Shiv Sena MP Chandrakant Khaire and Congress leader Sachin Sawant underline that the trend of using central agencies for “political blackmail” is dangerous for the democracy. Political analyst Abhimanyu Shitole admits that since no fresh leaks or details of properties etc. are coming out about those who have joined hands with the BJP, it is difficult to dismiss the allegation of blackmail lightly.

(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday.)

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