Shiv Sena (UBT) slams ED arrest of Aditya Thackeray’s aide in ‘khichdi scam’
Mumbai: The Shiv Sena (UBT) on Thursday slammed the arrest of Suraj Chavan — a close associate of former Minister and MLA Aditya Thackeray — in the alleged ‘khichdi scam’ in the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a strong reaction, Thackeray Jr. said he was proud of such patriots who don’t bow down to shameless dictatorships and their servile agencies, and for always standing up to ‘truth, democracy, free speech and the Constitution’.
Chief Spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut termed the arrest as a vendetta and warned that the people of the state will give a fitting reply to the Bharatiya Janata Party for misusing central agencies against political opponents.
“Proud to be a colleague of such patriots… He (Chavan) refused to be bought out by the regime and thereby he is being harassed. We will fight these dark days for democracy and win. The world is watching the dictatorial regime in our state,” said Aditya Thackeray, attacking the government.
BJP former MP Kirit Somaiya, who exposed the alleged scam last year, said that he welcomed Chavan’s arrest in the ‘khichdi scam’ worth around Rs 6.7 crore, which was meant to be served to stranded migrants.
A Yuva Sena secretary, Chavan was arrested around midnight and will be produced before a Special PMLA Court later in the day.
Among other things, he is accused of influencing BMC officials to award contracts to certain contractors who were close to the then ruling Shiv Sena led by ex-Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
After the Mumbai Police’s EOW filed a case in September 2023, the ED entered the probe for a suspected money-laundering angle to the case.
The BMC had awarded contracts for ‘khichdi’ intended to be served to migrant workers who were stranded in Mumbai during the strict lockdown, and Chavan allegedly influenced civic officials to divert the lucrative contracts to caterers who did not fulfill the requisite criteria, giving only half the quantity of specified 250 gms ‘khichdi’ packets, and other irregularities.
The case has other alleged players like Raut’s close aide Sujit Parkar, Sunil Kadam alias Bala, Rajeev Salunkhe of Sahyadri Refreshments, Force One Multi-Services, Sneha Caterers, several known and unknown BMC officials who are linked in the scam.