“ED’s actions are only for the political benefit of BJP at the time of elections.Independent agencies are being compromised. I was always their target,” Baghel told TOI in an exclusive interview Saturday, three days before the first ballot.
The CM then sought to explain the timeline of the case. “In Union home minister Amit Shah’s words, ‘chronology samajhiye (understand the chronology)’. The level of tactics and strategies they employ against their political adversaries is quite clear. The timing of the ED’s arrival and the Mahadev App case, which was already under investigation by our government, raises questions. We have arrested about 450 people involved in the Mahadev app case and issued lookout notices, but the accused are not being arrested,” Baghel said.
Without taking names, the CM insinuated that the ED claims were orchestrated to sully his image ahead of the polls. Senior BJP leaders, including PM Narendra Modi, have launched withering attacks on Baghel over the case.
“You catch hold of some unknown face, extract a statement through coercion, get some emails from random persons linked with the case in reference to payment of Rs 500-800 crore and go public without carrying out any investigation, that too in the middle of polls!” Baghel said when asked about the allegations.
The Congress leader wondered what was stopping the Centre from banning the dubious app. “Why are they not banning the Mahadev Book app and other betting platforms, which is within the powers of the Centre? Not banning them is an indication of the level of the “setting” they (the apps) have with the Centre.”
“Can there be a bigger joke?…” Bhupesh Baghel after ED allegations of receiving ₹508 cr from Mahadev betting app promoters
Asked about central agencies summoning several bigwigs, including Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot’s son, in recent weeks, Baghel said BJP is “extremely apprehensive”. “Their actions suggest they fear facing the electorate on their own merits and are resorting to such tactics”.
Turning to the poll battle, the CM argued that Congress’s prospects will not be affected by the presence of multiple regional parties and alliances — such as JCC-J, AAP, HRP, BSP and GGP — as they appeared to be fielded to split votes. “Their impact is expected to be limited, similar to independent candidates in certain pockets,” Baghel said.