Baghel's sharp dig at ED amid Mahadev app row: ‘Short break after Nov 17’
The first phase of campaigning saw the BJP attacking chief minister Bhupesh Baghel over the alleged Mahadev betting app scam.
Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel on Tuesday took a sharp dig at the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax Department (IT), implying that they might take a temporary break after state elections but would likely resurface before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Speaking at a press conference, CM Baghel addressed the ongoing investigations by the ED and IT in the poll-bound state.
He remarked, “They (ED, IT) will take a short break. After November 17, they will take a break. They also have a family. Before Lok Sabha (elections), they will again come back.”
The opposition parties have been raising questions about the timing of the raids by central probe agencies.
Baghel's statement comes against the backdrop of the ED linking its ongoing probe into Mahadev betting promoters with Baghel. The ED claimed that the probe has led to "startling allegations" that Mahadev betting app promoters paid about ₹508 crore to Chief Minister Baghel so far, and that "these are subject matter of investigation".
The chief minister rejected the charges alleging the ruling BJP at the Centre was misusing probe agencies to win election, and called the ED's move “extremely malicious”.
“What’s malicious is the fact that ED has summarily said that the said statement is subject to investigation. However, if the investigation hasn’t taken place, then what’s the haste of issuing a press release based upon the statement of one individual? This shows the ill intentions of ED and the central government.”
On Monday, Baghel questioned the Election Commission for not taking cognizance of the allegations against him in the Mahadev app case.
"When there was an Election Commission meeting, the ED (Enforcement Directorate), IT (Income Tax) were present in it. Why has the Election Commission not taken cognizance of this?" Baghel said speaking at a press conference on Monday.
The Congress, meanwhile, has sought the intervention of the Election Commission to stop the "misuse" of probe agencies, including ED which was continuing to carry out raids when the election process was on and the model code of conduct in force.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters, Congress leaders Abhishek Singhvi, Pramod Tiwari, Salman Khurshid and Ranjeet Ranjan alleged that it was a clear violation of the model code of conduct and disturbs the level-playing field.
"It is definitely an attempt to obstruct free and fair elections, it is definitely an attempt to muddy the field because the BJP knows that they are losing badly, it is definitely an attempt to paint a black picture where they know that the janta realise the achievements of the Congress government," Singhvi told reporters.