Mumbai: Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, who is currently in jail over money laundering charges, has claimed that there was pressure on him to “betray” his party, and that he landed in jail as he did not pay heed to it.
In a letter to his mother dated August 8, a week after his arrest, Mr Raut said, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and Shiv Sainiks were like her own children and till the time he was in jail, they would take care of her.
Everyone is aware that he has been framed under false and bogus charges and statements are extracted from him at gun point, Mr Raut alleged.
Mr Raut was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on August 1 in a money laundering case linked to alleged irregularities in the redevelopment of Patra ‘chawl’ in Mumbai. He is currently in judicial custody. The ED probe pertains to alleged financial irregularities of ₹ 1,034 crore pertaining to the redevelopment of the chawl or tenements in suburban Goregaon and related financial transactions allegedly involving his wife and associates.
Mr Raut, the executive editor of Shiv Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, said freedom fighters Lokmanya Tilak and Vinayak Domadar Savarkar had to face similar treatment.
“Like you, the Shiv Sena is also my mother. I had pressure to betray my mother (the party). There were threats not to speak against the government as it will prove costly. I did not pay heed to the threat which is why I am away from you,” the letter, which was tweeted on Wednesday, said.
He said Uddhav Thackeray, who heads one faction of the Shiv Sena, is his dear friend and a leader, and that it would be difficult to face Sena founder Bal Thackeray if he left Uddhav’s side in his trying times.
Mr Raut also assured his mother that he will definitely be out of jail as the “soul” of Maharashtra and the country cannot be killed.
At the time of Mr Raut’s arrest by the ED, his mother had hugged him and sobbed when he was being taken away. In two separate rallies held in September and October, the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction had kept a chair vacant with Mr Raut’s name written on it to send a message how strongly the party backs him.
Uddhav Thackeray and his wife Rashmi Thackeray have visited Mr Raut’s family at different intervals to show their support to him.
Mr Raut, a bitter critic of the Narendra Modi government and also one of the architects that helped form the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government under Uddhav Thackeray, said without naming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that the ones in power want to finish the Shiv Sena and want to trample upon the self-respect of Maharashtra.
In such circumstances, it is difficult to be a mute spectator and live like a slave, he said, adding that Congress’ interim president Sonia Gandhi and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Rohit Pawar are being troubled.
“But this will lead to a revolution and democracy will again take birth,” Mr Raut said.