ED conducts raids at the premises of Vinod Verma, political advisor to CM Bhupesh Baghel, in Raipur. (Image: ANI)
The central agency also raided premises of Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the Chief Minister, according to Baghel
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted raids at the residential premises of Vinod Verma, who serves as the political advisor to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, as well as other state officials in Raipur on Wednesday. In a sarcastic retort, the Chief Minister responded by expressing his “thanks” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for what he referred to as a “priceless gift” received on his birthday.
The central agency also raided premises of Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the Chief Minister, according to Baghel. The searches were also held at the premises of a businessman in Durg, as per a PTI report.
The Chief Minister, in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, addressed “Dear Prime Minister and Amit Shah” and said, “I am very grateful for the precious gift you sent to my political advisor, my OSD and my close friends’ homes by sending ED on the occasion of my birthday today.”
आदरणीय प्रधानमंत्री जी एवं श्री अमित शाह जी!मेरे जन्मदिन के दिन आज आपने मेरे राजनीतिक सलाहकार एवं मेरे OSD सहित करीबियों के यहाँ ED भेजकर जो अमूल्य तोहफा दिया है, इसके लिए बहुत आभार.
— Bhupesh Baghel (@bhupeshbaghel) August 23, 2023
The Congress party termed the raids as a response to pre-poll surveys forecasting a ‘massive Rout’ for the BJP. The party further affirmed that it would not be intimidated by such “threats” and asserted its government’s resilience.
Congress’ media and publicity department head Pawan Khera said, “The ongoing ED raids in Chattisgarh are a clear reaction to all the pre-poll surveys that have predicted a massive rout for the BJP.” “Our pro-people Congress government will not get bogged down by such threats. We have the power of the people behind us,” Khera said in a post on X.
In July, the ED had conducted searches against several bureaucrats including IAS officer Ranu Sahu and Chhattisgarh Congress leader and PCC treasurer Ramgopal Agarwal as part of a money laundering investigation.
The searches were undertaken after the federal agency registered a fresh case under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), as per reports.
While the case prompting the raids was undisclosed, reports indicated a possible connection to a purported rice scam.
The agency had been investigating an alleged coal levy and liquor-related scheme within the state, which resulted in the detention of prominent bureaucrats, including IAS officers, alongside politicians and their affiliates.
On July 18, the Supreme Court directed the agency to refrain from taking further action in the alleged money laundering case linked to a Rs 2,000 crore liquor scam in Chhattisgarh.