Weeks before Rajasthan election, ED raids state Congress chief’s premises
The raids came three days after chief minister Ashok Gehlot accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre of misusing the ED to harass the ruling Congress in Rajasthan
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) was on Thursday raiding state Congress president Govind Singh Dotasara’s residences in Jaipur and Sikar as well as a coaching centre allegedly linked to him weeks before the November 25 Rajasthan assembly election.
The raids came three days after chief minister Ashok Gehlot accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre of misusing the ED to harass the ruling Congress in Rajasthan.
In a post on the social media platform X, Gehlot called “non-stop” ED raids in Rajasthan the proof of the Congress winning the election. He added the federal agency was being misused against the Congress as the BJP was unable to win the trust of the people in Rajasthan.
The raids on the premises of Dotasara, who is contesting the November 25 election from Lacchmangarh in Sikar, began at 8.30am.
People aware of the matter said the raids were being conducted in connection with the Rajasthan Eligibility Examination for Teachers paper leak in 2021.
The ED was raiding the coaching centre in Sikar for the second time since August. Dotasara has denied any links with the centre.
There were no immediate comments from Dotasara, the Congress or the ED on the raids.
Opposition BJP lawmaker Ram Lal Sharma insisted the raids were being conducted on the basis of evidence. “They should be worried only if they are guilty. Everyone should cooperate in the probe.”
Opposition parties have been citing a pattern in raids and accusing the BJP-led Union government of repeatedly targeting their leaders through raids, summons and arrests ahead of elections. The federal agencies and the Union government have repeatedly denied these charges.
The Congress earlier this year called ED raids in Chhattisgarh a result of pre-poll surveys which predicted a “massive rout” for the BJP.
Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are going to the polls along with Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, and Mizoram between November 7 and 30. This will be the last major electoral exercise ahead of the 2024 elections.
The Congress wrested power from the BJP in the Hindi-speaking heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh months before the 2019 general elections. It is hoping to retain power in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and form the government in Madhya Pradesh, the largest of the five states accounting for roughly 15% of India’s population.
The Congress lost power to the BJP in Madhya Pradesh in March 2020 after the resignations of 22 legislators.
The BJP lost to the Congress in Himachal Pradesh in 2022 and Karnataka in May. The Congress is particularly buoyed by its performance in Karnataka, where it returned to power on the back of an ideological campaign centred on welfare, social justice, and anti-corruption.