The money-laundering case against Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar has given his dormant party a new lease of life ahead of the next month's assembly polls in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said on Friday.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) earlier this week filed the money-laundering case against Mr Pawar, his nephew Ajit Pawar, a former deputy chief minister, and others in connection with alleged scam in the Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank (MSCB).
Mr Pawar had earlier said he will visit the ED office on Friday, but later dropped the plan after meeting top police officials and citing potential law and order problem it may create.
Mr Raut said the ED case has acquired political colours and pointed out that the Maratha strongman was a respected figure.
"I see this development (ED case) from the point of view of the next month's assembly elections. Those who know Pawar and understand the state politics, will say that for no reason, the investigating agency has made the case political.
"Pawar is a top leader in Maharashtra and the country. He has a reputation," Mr Raut told a Marathi news channel in New Delhi.
Mr Raut said his party has political differences with Mr Pawar, but they have not come in the way of supporting him on the issue.
"We have political differences with Pawar. Since (Sena founder) Balasaheb Thackeray's time, we have been criticising him...contesting elections against him...sometimes winning and losing. He has also lost against us," he said.
"In Maharashtra, there is a culture that whenever anything wrong happens, we stand by each other. When (MNS chief) Raj Thackeray was questioned by the ED (last month in a separate money-laundering case), (Sena chief) Uddhav Thackeray spoke something positive," he said.
Even social activist Anna Hazare has said Mr Pawar has nothing to do with the bank scam, Mr Raut said.
Mr Raut also referred to BJP leader and former minister Eknath Khadse, who has said when the MSCB issue was discussed in the Assembly, Mr Pawar's name did not come up.
"His name is not even mentioned in the complaint on which the high court acted. Just because some of his aides are involved, he is being called the kingpin. This doesn't come under the purview of the law," Mr Raut said.
Mr Raut said neither the BJP nor the government had any role to play in this development.