Mumbai: A Special Investigation Team of Maharashtra's Anti-Corruption Bureau on Tuesday carried out searches at 16 offices/homes belonging to senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, his son Pankaj and nephew Sameer.
The former deputy chief minister's Nationalist Congress Party cried foul and called the searches a "vendetta".
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis dismissed the opposition party's charge and said, "The FIR has been filed by the ACB. The investigations are monitored by the Bombay High Court. So there is no question of political interference or vendetta."
The searches were carried out at the Bhujbals' homes and offices in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Nashik, an official of the ACB said here.
These include seven residences and offices in Mumbai, a bungalow in Thane, commercial premises in Navi Mumbai, three farmhouses and two bungalows in Nashik, a flat in Pune and a bungalow on a 65-acre plot with a helipad in Lonavala.
The searches followed cases registered by the ACB in the past few weeks against the Bhujbals and 14 others for alleged corruption and amassing wealth and assets beyond their known sources of income.
Following complaints, the ACB lodged an FIR against Bhujbal and son Pankaj, both legislators, and nephew Sameer, a former MP, for alleged irregularities in awarding the contract to construct the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi.
Last year, following the Bombay High Court directive on a Public Interest Litigation, the ACB formed the SIT to investigate the contract and other cases, including allotment of a plot of land in Mumbai suburb Kalina to a realtor.
The NCP rallied behind the Bhujbals and said the party would challenge these actions in the court of law, senior party leader Madhukar Pichad said and termed the SIT operations an "act of vendetta".
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik accused the government of going all-out to prove baseless corruption charges against its leaders.
Fadnavis was himself part of the group that campaigned against the NCP leaders when he was in the opposition and now they were misusing power to hound our party leaders, Malik said.
He pointed out that the open inquiry against Chhagan Bhujbal for alleged irregularities in the Maharashtra Sadan case was ordered by the previous Congress-NCP government as it was confident that the ministers had done nothing wrong.
"The court had asked for an impartial inquiry, but not to file FIRs as the present government has done against Bhujbal for decisions not taken by him," Malik told media persons.
Defending himself, Bhujbal said the decisions were taken by a cabinet sub-committee on infrastructure, headed by the then chief minister.
"I have not taken a single paise or given an inch of land to anybody.... All the charges against me are false and this will be proved soon," he asserted.