The recurring pattern of the Enforcement Directorate uncovering alleged wrongdoings of opposition parties just before elections demands scrutiny. This suggests a need for a change in leadership; the Narendra Modi government should relinquish power if any nexus is discovered. The ED, often working alongside the CBI and other central investigating agencies, obstructs the country’s path to freeing itself from the Modi administration. Of all these agencies, the ED is the most formidable, and some might argue, the most insidious. Once it targets an opposition leader, it seldom relents. Curiously, the ED consistently strikes right before an election. As the Chhattisgarh assembly elections draw near, the Enforcement Directorate has once again taken action. This time, its target is Chhattisgarh’s chief minister Bhupesh Baghel, whom the ED alleges received Rs 508 crore in illegal gratification from the promoters of the infamous Mahadev App to cover election expenses. This accusation reeks of apparent political motivation and raises suspicions of a vendetta, likely prompted by Baghel’s strong position in the upcoming assembly elections. Defeating Bhupesh Baghel poses a significant challenge, and the BJP, desperate to wrest Chhattisgarh from Congress, will go to great lengths.
The ED insists that Baghel has received a total of Rs 508 crore from Mahadev App for election expenses. A similar allegation was previously made against the Aam Aadmi Party. The ED has also claimed to uncover benami bank accounts of Mahadev App linked to Baghel, involving Rs 15.59 crore. The Congress has criticised the Modi government for using the ED to influence elections, particularly after ED’s probe into “cash courier” Asim Das’s revelations. The Congress accuses the government of misusing the ED to intimidate opposition parties. Chief minister Bhupesh Baghel responded, accusing the BJP of relying on central investigating agencies like the ED, IT, DRI, and the CBI to contest elections. He vehemently criticised the ED for attempting to tarnish his image, viewing it as a political move to discredit the popular Congress government. However, Baghel and the Congress face a challenging situation. Unlike the previous “Delhi Liquorgate” scandal, “Mahadevgate” leaves behind a more visible trail, with evidence such as money seized from Asim Das, proof of his connections to Dubai, the involvement of a police officer as a conduit, and intelligence on Mahadev App’s links with the Chhattisgarh chief minister.
A police officer is also in ED custody, serving as the intermediary to receive the “bribe” from Mahadev App, intended for senior bureaucrats and Chhattisgarh politicians. The officer’s travel expenses to Dubai were covered by a travel agency linked to Mahadev App. Bhupesh Baghel’s standing has been significantly compromised, and it’s likely that the investigation will favor the BJP. Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya has promised Chhattisgarh voters that they can vote without fear. This raises questions about his intentions and who Chhattisgarh voters should truly fear. Both the “cash courier” and the police officer are in ED custody for seven days, and the PMLA special judge in Raipur is overseeing their cases. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge questions the timing of the ED’s actions, just as the elections draw near, suggesting that it may be an attempt to intimidate the opposition. The Chhattisgarh assembly elections are scheduled in two phases, on November 7 and 17, with vote counting on December 3.