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Chhattisgarh Election 2023: 'Modiastra' has been deployed, says Congress

The Congress has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of using the ED to tarnish the reputation of its leaders in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan as the party anticipates electoral defeat. These allegations followed the ED's claims that the Mahadev betting app promoters paid approximately Rs 508 crore to Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel

Chhattisgarh Election 2023 Mahadev Betting App-Bhupesh Baghel ED probe Modiastra has been deployed, says Congress
First Published Nov 4, 2023, 9:34 AM IST

After startling allegations emerged regarding payments made by the promoters of the Mahadev betting app to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, amounting to Rs 508 crore, the Congress party has claimed against Prime Minister Narendra Modi was now using the Enforcement Directorate (ED) as a last-ditch effort to tarnish the reputation of its leaders, particularly in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan where they anticipate an impending electoral defeat.

Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh leveled this criticism against the Prime Minister, characterizing the ED as Modi's final weapon of choice. In a social media post, Ramesh stated that in light of the potential electoral setbacks in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, Prime Minister Modi has deployed the ED as his ultimate tool, what he referred to as "Modiastra," to damage the reputation of Congress leaders. 

He also emphasized that the people of Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan stand as the Congress party's shield, and the tactics employed by PM Modi and his party will only serve to strengthen the resolve of voters who perceive such actions as election theatrics driven by the BJP's desperation.

See the cleverness of ED: Baghel

Responding to the allegations, Baghel took to the platform X to lash out at the Enforcement Directorate. He said, "See the cleverness of ED that after revealing the statement of that person, it has written in a short sentence that the statement is a matter of investigation. If investigation has not been done then issuing a press release on the statement of one person not only reveals the intentions of the ED but also reveals the bad intentions of the central government behind it."

"At present, elections are underway in the state, and the Election Commission wields considerable authority. Besides the police, CRPF personnel are engaged in investigations. This prompts us to question how individuals managed to transport such a substantial amount to Chhattisgarh. Could there be a collusion among central agencies in this endeavor? Was this currency transported in containers that didn't arrive via a special plane accompanied by ED officers and security personnel," Baghel added.

What is the ED probing?

The Enforcement Directorate initiated its probe in response to intelligence reports suggesting the movement of a substantial amount of cash in Chhattisgarh by Mahadev App promoters in anticipation of the state's elections.

The agency conducted searches at Hotel Triton and another location in Bhilai, successfully intercepting a cash courier, Asim Das, who had been sent from the UAE with a significant sum intended for election-related expenses of the ruling Congress Party. 

The ED reported that Rs 5.39 crore was recovered from Das' car and residence, and he admitted that the money was organized by the promoters of the Mahadev App in the UAE, designated for delivery to the politician referred to as 'Baghel' for upcoming election expenses in Chhattisgarh. The ED also uncovered benami bank accounts linked to the betting app, with Rs 15.59 crore frozen within them.

Das was subsequently arrested, and through his interrogation, forensic examination of his phone, and the examination of an email sent by Shubam Soni, a key figure in the Mahadev network, it was revealed that substantial payments had been made in the past, totaling around Rs 508 crore from the Mahadev App promoters to Bhupesh Baghel, the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh. The agency noted that these allegations are now subject to further investigation.

Interestingly, the ED's allegations come just four days before the commencement of the first phase of elections in the state. 

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