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Sharad Pawar calls off visit to ED office, says won't be scared off

Sharad Pawar calls off visit to ED office, says wont be scared off

Mumbai: After creating a stir with his announcement that he would voluntarily visit the Enforcement Directorate office here, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, named in a money-laundering case, canceled the plan on Friday.

The BJP, meanwhile, pointed out that the probe in the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) scam, over which the ED has filed the case, began when a Congress-NCP government was in power.

Pawar said he decided not to go to the ED office after Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve met him at his residence and requested him to reconsider his plan.

The ED too had conveyed to him on Thursday that his presence was not required for now, he said.

Expecting protests by Nationalist Congress Party workers, the police had imposed prohibitory orders in south Mumbai where the ED's office is located. Two days ago, Pawar, a former Union minister, made a dramatic announcement that he would visit the ED office -- though not summoned -- on Friday after the agency disclosed that his name figures in the MSCB case.

"I have canceled the visit to the ED office for now.

I am ready to go there when required....if someone tries to scare us off through the ED or any other agency, he or she will not succeed," Pawar told reporters at his residence on Friday morning. He would furnish whatever information the ED needs whenever it demands, he added.

"(Congress leaders) Rahul Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and other senior national leaders and the Shiv Sena, too, supported me, I thank them," he said. He also questioned the timing of the ED case, which came ahead of the October 21 assembly polls in Maharashtra.

"Our impression is that the decision was taken to malign the image of heads of opposition parties at a particular time," he said.

He had conveyed his decision to visit ED office to the investigation agency in writing, Pawar said. "I got a reply yesterday. It said I have not been summoned, I need not visit the office, and I will be informed when I should visit the office whenever required," he said.

"Mumbai's commissioner of police and joint police commissioner met me. There is anger among (NCP) workers after the case was filed. They were being stopped from coming to the city. The commissioner said there was a possibility of the law and order getting disturbed," Pawar said.

"I have handled the state's home department in the past. I don't want any of my actions to cause inconvenience to common people," the former Maharashtra chief minister said. The 79-year-old politician denied any wrongdoing. "I was not associated with the bank either as member or director," he said.

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