RAIPUR/NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday raided the premises of over half-a-dozen Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh in connection with a coal levy scam, days before the party’s Raipur plenary session, drawing criticism of political vendetta.
The scam involves a cartel comprising senior bureaucrats, businessmen and politicians, which the ED claims illegally extorted Rs 25 per tonne of coal transported in the state, generating an estimated Rs 2-3 crore of black money each day.
The locations where searches were underway included those of MLA Devendra Yadav in Bhilai (Durg district), Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee treasurer Ramgopal Agrawal, chairman of Chhattisgarh State Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board Sushil Sunny Agrawal and the party’s state spokesperson R P Singh in Raipur.
The three-day Congress plenary is scheduled to start on February 24. Calling the raids a cowardly act by the BJP, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said the party will not be cowed down by such tactics. He alleged that 95 per cent of the raids conducted by the ED in the past nine years were on Opposition leaders, mostly from the Congress.
“It is evident that the BJP is rattled by the success of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. The attempt to suppress democracy will be challenged by the Congress,” he said in a tweet. “If Modi-ji has even a shred of integrity, I challenge him to raid his best friend’s mega-scams,” he added.
The BJP, in its pushback, said the party has nothing to do with the ED’s action. “When the ED initiates actions against corrupt officials and leaders in Chhattisgarh, how does the BJP come into the picture?” asked ex-CM Raman Singh, who is also a BJP national vice-president.
This was a follow-up raid after the ED’s extensive raids in Chhattisgarh last year led to the arrest of nine persons, including kingpin Suryakant Tiwari, his uncle Laxmikant Tiwari, IAS officer Sameer Vishnoi and Baghel’s aide Soumya Chaurasia.
‘Our spirit can’t be broken’
“There is a Congress convention in Raipur in four days. Our spirit can’t be broken... the BJP is frustrated with the success of the Bharat Jodo Yatra and the truth of Adani being exposed. We will fight and win,” Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said