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ED, IT raids attempts to defame Chhattisgarh government; will give return gift by winning 75 seats in polls: Bhupesh Baghel

NEW DELHI: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Thursday alleged that the ED and I-T raids on his colleagues were malicious attempts to defame and suppress the state government and said he would give a ”return gift” to the Prime Minister by winning 75-plus seats in the upcoming assembly polls.

Addressing a press conference a day after his political adviser Vinod Verma’s residence was raided by the ED, Baghel said he feared that more such raids would be conducted against people close to him to scuttle the functioning of his government.

He challenged the Bharatiya Janata Party to fight the forthcoming elections ”democratically” instead of using central agencies like the Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax department to intimidate political opponents. The Chief Minister appealed to the judiciary to take note of such ”intimidation”, arguing the state government did not have enough resources or recourse to counter such harassment by the central agencies.

He said he would give a befitting response to the BJP in the upcoming state assembly polls and wipe out the party from Chhattisgarh.

Asked what he meant, Baghel said, ”when the results come out in November we will give 75-plus seats.” ”An attempt is being made to suppress and defame the Chhattisgarh government. The BJP started this after losing the Jharkhand elections in July 2020. They were silent for two and a half years, but have become active again as the elections are approaching,” Baghel told reporters.

”What does the ED do? ED people go to people’s houses, confiscate mobiles, seize jewellery and cash in their bank accounts. Then they keep the whole family hostage for several days and ask political questions,” he said, adding, ”first the IT raided, then ED entered. Their aim is only to defame the government.” Baghel said before the assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, slated to be held in the next few months, a team of 250 IT people will conduct more raids against his close associates to intimidate him.

He alleged that the ED had let loose a reign of terror on the Congress workers, who were being kept hostage in their houses for days with no care for the elderly.

Baghel alleged that people are being forced to make signatures with threats of jail without bail.

Bhagel said if the ED is really serious about checking money laundering, it should pursue Mahadev App scam and the chit fund scam. But their purpose is just political, to intimidate opponents, he said. ”When ED comes, IT goes, when IT comes, ED goes. The same sequence is going on here.” The CM said the probe agencies are alleging scams to the tune of Rs 2,168 crore in Chhattisgarh, which they have been unable to prove, as assets recovered in raids make up for only a fraction of that sum.

He said the ED has not been able to account for more than Rs 200 crore despite four charge sheets.

He said the agency pegged the money swindled in the ”coal scam” at Rs 500 crore, but was unable to provide figures for more than Rs 150 crore.

Claiming that there has been no scam and all of it is a figment of probe agencies’ imagination, Baghel said the liquor policy was made by the previous BJP government, and ever since, the liquor revenue in the state has risen from Rs 3,900 crore during BJP to Rs 6,500 crore under Congress regime currently in charge. This, he said, despite the ED alleging there has been a loss to state exchequer.

He asserted that the ED has not been able to justify its allegations of loss even after presenting four supplementary challans.

Bhagel asked the ED if there was a scam, then why it had not taken any action against the distillers for use of fake holograms.

The main accused should be the distiller who has not been touched, he said.

The CM said while last time the BJP had been reduced to 15 seats, the number will come down further, particularly now after such raids.

He said the ED was now trying to claim another scam in paddy procurement.

”But we are people of Chhattisgarh and are not scared of dying, we are not scared of fighting and we are not scared of going to jail,” he asserted, pointing out the state’s people’s decades-long struggle against the Maoists.

”If the BJP is confident about Modi ji’s appeal, why is it not fighting elections in his name. It is instead using the ED and the IT,” he also asked.

Baghel said the problem of the BJP is that it is baffled how the government procured from farmers 107 lakh metric tonnes of paddy which earlier used to rot in the open.

”We saved all those losses. This is their worry,” he added.

Source: Press Trust of India

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