Shinde sends legal notice to Raut over cash distribution allegations

In the notice, Shinde has sought an apology within three days, failing which he will initiate criminal and civil action

Mumbai: Irked by the allegations of giving cash for votes in the Lok Sabha election, Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde has sent a legal notice to ‘Saamana’ newspaper and its executive editor Sanjay Raut. In the notice, Mr. Shinde has sought an apology within three days, failing which he will initiate criminal and civil action.

An article written by Sanjay Raut and published in Shiv Sena (UBT) mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ on May 26 had claimed that Mr. Shinde distributed Rs 25-30 crore in each Lok Sabha constituency. The article further claimed that Mr. Shinde had a separate budget to ensure defeat of candidates fielded by the Ajit Pawar faction of the NCP, which was part of the grand alliance ‘Mahayuti’.

In the notice, Mr. Shinde said that he never gave or spent money to secure votes and challenged the Shiv Sena UBT leader to produce proof of his claims. The notice stated that Mr. Raut has attempted to tarnish the image of the Maharashtra CM by making baseless claims. Under the guise of freedom of speech, it is not permitted to defame Mr. Shinde for Mr. Raut’s vested political and selfish interest, the notice said.

“It appears that the said defamatory news article has been published by you with an intention to gain name, fame, and political mileage for yourself and your so-called leader Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray,” the notice said.

Mr. Shinde’s notice has said that the statements made in Mr. Raut’s article were not only false but “defamatory and scandalous”, and made to mislead the people and create unrest. He has asked Mr. Raut to produce evidence to back his allegations or issue an apology within three days. If Mr. Raut fails to produce proof to back his statements or does not apologise, he should be ready to face the legal action, the notice said.

Mr. Raut posted the notice dated May 28 on his social media account and called it a “very interesting” and “one of the funny political documents”.

During the election, Mr. Raut had posted the pictures of bags carried in the CM’s helicopter and had claimed that there was cash in those bags. However, he did not provide evidence of cash.

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