Wednesday, November 29, 2023

“BJP most scared of me,” says Baghel as ED links him to betting app deal

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Facing allegations of an alleged Rs 508 crore deal with the promoters of the Mahadev app, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel responded by asserting that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is primarily targeting him through the Enforcement Directorate (ED) because they fear the most. Baghel made this statement to reporters, emphasizing that the BJP is attempting to tarnish his reputation with ED accusations.

The ED had reported that a cash courier named Asim Das, sent from the UAE, was intercepted with a significant amount of cash intended for election expenses of the ruling Congress party in Chhattisgarh. Asim Das allegedly confessed that the Mahadev App promoters had paid Rs 508 crore to the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister.

These allegations raised questions about the timing of the ED’s claims, given the upcoming Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh. The BJP responded by questioning whether Chhattisgarh Congress leaders received funds from Das for their election expenses.

Union Minister Smriti Irani, during a press briefing in the national capital, accused the Congress party of contesting the Chhattisgarh elections with the involvement of hawala operators. Baghel countered this by referencing similar accusations made against Himanta Biswa Sarma and Ajit Pawar when they were in the opposition, highlighting that they were embraced by the BJP after joining the party.

The ED is investigating the Mahadev Book Online Betting App syndicate, which involves promoters based abroad remotely managing numerous panels across India. The ED has already arrested four individuals, seized proceeds of crime worth over Rs 450 crore, and filed a prosecution complaint against 14 accused individuals.

In response, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh suggested political misuse of agencies in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, calling on the Election Commission to take cognizance of the situation.

The Chhattisgarh Assembly elections are scheduled to be held in two phases, with the first phase taking place on November 7 and the second on November 17. The results will be announced on December 3.

In the 2018 elections, the Congress secured a decisive victory in Chhattisgarh, winning 68 out of 90 seats, with a vote share of 43.9 percent. The BJP won 15 seats and had a vote share of 33.6 percent.

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