Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, one of the most aggressive backers of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray against a mutiny in the party, has been granted time until July 1 to appear before the Enforcement Directorate for questioning in a money laundering case. He was originally told to appear today at 11am at the agency's Mumbai office, but his lawyers sought two weeks to put together documents.
Mr Raut has alleged that the BJP is misusing the central government agency to hound political rivals. Immediately after being summoned, Mr Raut had yesterday said he won't appear and dared the ED to arrest him, calling the case "a conspiracy to stop me".
The case is about an alleged scam in the redevelopment of a housing complex named Patra Chawl. In April, the ED had attached his family's properties, too, in the case.
Meanwhile, the political crisis seemed to be headed for an endgame as rebel Sena leader Eknath Shinde today declared he will go to Mumbai. He was speaking to reporters outside a hotel in Guwahati in BJP-ruled Assam, where he and other rebels have been staying for a week. Mr Shinde claims he has the backing of nearly 40 of the Shiv Sena's 55 MLAs.
Sources said Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari might ask the government to prove majority in the assembly sometime this week.
The rebels want the Sena to exit the alliance with the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and go back to its "natural" alliance with the BJP, citing a shared Hindutva ideology. Team Thackeray says BJP ignited the revolt to grab power in Maharashtra.