New Delhi, Nov 8 (PTI) The Congress on Wednesday sought the Election Commission's immediate intervention to stop the alleged misuse of the Enforcement Directorate during assembly elections and alleged that the probe agency was acting at the behest of the central government to disturb the level-playing field.
A Congress delegation met the election commissioners and also alleged that the Mahadev betting app issue was being politicised in view of the polls.
After the meeting, Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi told reporters, "We were dejected that we were not given time (to petition the EC) before the November 7 polling. The EC heard us and we explained to them the alleged misuse of ED, acting as the Election Department of BJP and disturbing the level-playing field during assembly elections in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan." "This is a serious and grave attack on the basic structure of the Constitution because the level-playing field has been disturbed and due to which democracy cannot survive. The BJP is attacking the basic structure of the Constitution and we have sought protection from the EC," Singhvi said.
He said the Chhattisgarh Police has made nearly 500 arrests and seized laptops and money in the last 18 months on the Mahadev app issue and the Congress has demanded the arrest of some people behind this betting platform and also demanded a ban on it.
But the moment the Chhattisgarh assembly polls drew near, the ED began carrying out raids, he alleged.
Last week, the ED claimed that a forensic analysis and a statement made by a "cash courier" have led to "startling allegations" that Mahadev betting app promoters paid about Rs 508 crore to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel so far, and that "these are subject matter of investigation".
Rubbishing the charges, Singhvi said, "While the ED itself is saying that 'it is subject to investigation', (it is) using the statement of an accused to disturb the level-playing field today and vitiate the atmosphere ahead of polls. All this is happening because the BJP knows that it is losing Chhattisgarh elections and it is making desperate attempts in the last phase in the state to win back." "This shows how you have destroyed constitutional authorities and we want the EC to ensure that this misuse of ED is stopped. It is self-evident for anybody who is on the ground that the BJP is facing a certain defeat in Chhattisgarh and therefore it has roped in its ally ED," he alleged.
He condemned "the cheap politicisation of this issue of Mahadev app" and said the party expected an immediate and prompt action from the EC.
Congress leaders Tariq Anwar and Udit Raj were also part of the Congress delegation.
In its memorandum to the Election Commission, the Congress said, "There has been a worrying trend of the ED being used as a political tool by the BJP-ruled central government against opposition leaders, with the highest intensity in election-going states. During the Karnataka assembly elections 2023, various senior Congress leaders, including former ministers, MPs, and senior office-bearers, had been subjected to numerous raids and inquiries by ED and Income Tax Department." Singhvi said, "The prime minister accusing the Congress of misleading the Election Commission is the result of fear of defeat which they are seeing as the writing on the wall." Singhvi said Prime Minister Modi announced the extension of the free ration scheme for five years with the hope of evading his party's certain defeat.
"When you declare something then it is policy and if we make promises, it is 'revdi'. What kind of comparison is this," he said.
In its memorandum, the Congress said, "Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan are currently being served by Congress governments, however, in order to maliciously and falsely tarnish its image and its senior leaders (sitting CMs and state presidents), the BJP-ruled central government has once again resorted to misuse the powers of the officers of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) right on the eve of the elections." "The agencies, contrary to their aims, objectives and founding principles, are constantly diverting resources to target the opposition with a sole target to help BJP achieve its political objectives in the upcoming assembly elections," it said.
"(Agencies are) issuing malafide, politically motivated and unfounded ‘press releases’ against INC and its senior leaders, and thereby building a narrative in the media by falsely connecting them to cases pending investigation and without any corroborating evidence or following the legal process before the court. The same is being done deliberately to mislead the general public at the crucial time of elections," the memorandum said.
In Rajasthan too, the ED raided the premises of Congress state president Govind Singh Dotasra and his family in Jaipur and Sikar on October 26.
"Merely these raids without any corroborative evidence have again been used as a political premise by the BJP to target and malign the INC leaders in Rajasthan...the ED on the same day i.e. 26.10.2023, also summoned Rajasthan Chief Minister's son Vaibhav Gehlot in a separate case. Driven with sheer political vendetta, the said agency is leaving no opportunity to cause damage to the political image of Congress leaders in frivolous and baseless cases," the Congress stated. PTI SKC SMN