In a show of solidarity, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Monday met with family members of beleaguered party leader Sanjay Raut, arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case. Thackeray visited Raut’s residence in suburban Bhandup along with party MP Arvind Sawant, MLA Ravindra Waikar and Sena leader Milind Narvekar.
At Raut’s residence, the former chief minister met the arrested Sena MP’s mother, wife, daughters and other family members. Raut’s mother and wife had turned emotional while he was being taken away by the ED on Sunday.
Later, at a press conference, Thackeray described Raut as a close friend and addressed him by his first name. He also hailed him as a “hardcore Shiv Sainik” who did not succumb to pressure. Taking a dig at the former CM over his gesture, Deepak Kesarkar, the spokesperson of the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, welcomed Thackeray visiting the residence of Raut, but said he did not meet other party leaders who were being probed by central agencies.
Earlier in the day, Raut’s brother and party MLA Sunil Raut had told PTI that Thackeray is firmly behind the family of the arrested leader.
The ED had arrested Rajya Sabha MP Raut, a staunch critic of the BJP, in a money laundering case linked to alleged irregularities in the redevelopment of a Mumbai ‘chawl’ (an old row tenement) after conducting a nine-hour search at his residence, during which Rs 11.5 lakh in cash was seized.
Raut had denied the allegations and said he was framed owing to political vendetta.
On Monday, the Sena MP was produced before a special court which sent him the ED custody till August 4.