A day after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested a serving Cabinet Minister Nawab Malik, the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi and Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party protested against each other across Maharashtra on Thursday.
Leaders of the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress staged a sit-in agitation near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi outside Mantralaya and all over Maharashtra to protest against Malik's arrest and the manner in which the Centre has 'unleashed' central probe agencies to harass and topple non-BJP governments in the country.
BJP leaders demonstrated in Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad and other cities alleging Malik has "mafia connections" and he must either resign from the cabinet or be sacked immediately.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, ministers Subhash Desai, Jayant Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal, Hasan Mushrif, Balasaheb Thorat, Ashok Chavan, Sunil Kedar, Vijay Vaddetiwar, and other party leaders sat along with many protesters.
They raised slogans against the central government, flaying the 'political vendetta' through the misuse of probe agencies, harassing leaders to break or bend them to grab power at any cost.
The BJP city, state, and regional leaders organised noisy demonstrations at railway stations, bus stations, and other public places demanding the resignation of Malik, accusing him of "financing terror operations" through the absconder mafia don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar and his family.
The Maharashtra Police maintained tight security at all the government and opposition protest venues, as the MVA grappled with its biggest political crisis after it won the 2019 Assembly elections while the BJP tried to leverage Malik’s arrest as a major political opportunity.
In an unprecedented pre-dawn development on Wednesday, the ED picked up Malik from his home, took him to the ED office around 7.30 a.m. and handed him the summons, and after 8 hours placed him under arrest on charges of an alleged money-laundering case arising out of a tainted land deal nearly two decades ago.
After a hearing lasting nearly 3 hours, the Special PMLA Court late on Wednesday sent Malik to eight days' ED custody till March 3.