New Delhi [India]: Mounting an all-out attack on Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel over an alleged Rs 508 crore deal with Mahadev betting app promoters, BJP on Saturday questioned whether it is true that Congress leaders received money from the alleged mastermind of the app Shubham Soni to meet election expenses in the poll-bound state.
Addressing a press briefing at BJP headquarters here in the national capital, Union Minister Smriti Irani alleged that the Congress party is contesting the Chhattisgarh elections using hawala operators.
This came after the Enforcement Directorate on Friday said that they have intercepted a cash courier Asim Das who was sent from UAE especially, to deliver a large amount of cash for electioneering expenses of the ruling Congress party.
‘ED on November 2 recovered Rs 5.39 crore (from arrested Asim Das). He has admitted that the seized funds were arranged by the Mahadev APP promoters to be delivered to one Politician ‘Baghel’ for upcoming election expenses in the state of Chhattisgarh,’ ED had said.
The central agency added that Das confessed that Rs 508 crore has been so far paid to the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister by Mahadev APP Promoters, a charge which Baghel denies.
‘From the questioning of Asim Das, many startling allegations have come forth, namely, that regular payments have been made in the past and so far around Rs 508 Crore have been paid by Mahadev APP Promoters to Bhupesh Baghel, Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh. These are subject matter of investigation,’ ED added.
Reacting to it, Smriti Irani asked whether Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh received money from Asim Das, who is in ED’s custody, on the orders of Shubham Soni, who ED says is one of the high-ranking accused of the Mahadev network.
‘Yesterday, shocking facts regarding Bhupesh Baghel emerged before the country. More than Rs 5.30 Crores was seized from a man called Asim Das…Is it true that Congress leaders received money from Asim Das, via Shubham Soni? Is it true that Shubham Soni was ordered by Asim Das to go to Raipur and give money to Baghel as election expenses?’ Smriti said.
The Union Minister said that Asim Das has confessed in his statement that he came to Dubai as ordered. ‘He was ordered that money be given for Congress’ elections expenses.
Asim Das has confessed that this money is from illegal betting under Mahadev App. Asim Das has confessed that Shubham Soni is a part of the top-level management of Mahadev Online Book,’ she said.
‘Congress party is contesting the Chhattisgarh elections using hawala operators. Chhattisgarh Police and Andhra Pradesh do not come under the administrative purview of the BJP. So, is Bhupesh Baghel questioning his own Government?’ she added further.
The ED is investigating the Mahadev Book Online Betting App syndicate in which the promoters of this betting syndicate are based abroad and remotely running thousands of panels across India with the help of their friends and associates who are mainly from Chhattisgarh and have earned thousands of crore of proceeds of crime.
The ED has already arrested four accused persons seized proceeds of crime worth more than Rs 450 crore and filed a prosecution complaint against 14 accused persons.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh swiftly responded to the BJP’s press briefing saying that when the party comes out openly in defence of ED early in the morning, then their collusion becomes clear.
‘When BJP comes out openly in defence of ED early in the morning, then their collusion and political misuse of agencies in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan becomes clear. The Election Commission should take cognizance of this. Trust remains intact, once again Congress government…’ the Congress MP said in a post on the social media platform, X.
Moreover, when asked about ED’s claims, CM Baghel on Friday said that there cannot be a bigger joke than this and that the BJP wants to contest the upcoming Chhattisgarh polls with the help of its ‘agencies’.
‘Can there be a bigger joke? If today I catch hold of someone and ask him to take PM Modi’s name, will they (ED) interrogate him? It has become very easy to destroy someone’s reputation,’ Baghel said.