Congress funding Chhattisgarh poll campaign with betting operators’ illicit money: BJP

Congress funding Chhattisgarh poll campaign with betting operators’ illicit money: BJP

Union Minister Smriti Irani addresses a press conference over an alleged payment of about ₹508 crore by a betting app to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, at BJP headquarters in New Delhi, on November 4, 2023.

Union Minister Smriti Irani addresses a press conference over an alleged payment of about ₹508 crore by a betting app to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, at BJP headquarters in New Delhi, on November 4, 2023.
| Photo Credit: PTI

The BJP on Saturday accused the Congress of using hawala money brought by illegal betting operators to fund its poll campaign in Chhattisgarh as it targeted Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel over the allegation that he received over ₹500 crore kickback.

Never before in our electoral history had people seen such evidence, Union Minister Smriti Irani told a press conference, accusing Mr. Baghel of fighting the polls not with the support of people but hawala and betting operators.

Satta (power) me rah kar satta (betting) ka khel khela hai (he has played the game of betting while being in power),” she said, attacking Baghel.

The chief minister has in turn accused the BJP of using central investigation agencies to target him ahead of the assembly polls in the state on November 7 and 17.

Hitting back, Irani said the Enforcement Directorate’s probe is based on the details of investigations by police in Chhattisgarh as well as Andhra Pradesh and asked if Mr. Baghel is putting his own government in the dock.

Citing the probe, she said more than ₹64 crore protection money was also given to authorities by illegal betting operators.

There are voice messages and statements of the accused linking the use of betting money for funding the Congress’ campaign in the state and kickbacks given to Mr. Baghel, she claimed.

The ED had on Friday 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 ₹508 crore to the Chhattisgarh chief minister so far, and that “these are subject matter of investigation”.

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