Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar on November 6 rejected the Congress' claim that Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel had first raised the demand to ban the controversial Mahadev App months ago but the Centre failed to act.
Mr. Chandrasekhar alleged that Congress is creating a "new story" claiming to have written to the Centre two months back only in the wake of the disclosure that those who run this app have paid ₹508 crore.
Hitting back at Congress, the MoS for Electronics and Information Technology alleged the Baghel government deliberately stretched the investigation for one-and-a-half years as they wanted to take out ₹508 crore from the betting app.
Notably, the Centre on November 5 issued blocking orders against the Mahadev app and Reddyannaprestopro along with 20 other illegal betting platforms at the request of the Enforcement Directorate.
In a post on X, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh on November 6 said the Enforcement Directorate has been investigating the Mahadev app case for several months but it was "surprising" that it took so much time to ban it.
"The demand to ban the Mahadev App was also first raised by Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on August 24, 2023. Instead of praising him, the Prime Minister deployed ED against him," Ramesh alleged.
The Union Minister is "clearly lying" about the fact that the Chhattisgarh government had not demanded a ban on the Mahadev app, the Congress alleged.
“They (Chhattisgarh government) investigated the betting app one-and-a-half years ago. This is a six-minute problem whether it is an illegal app or a genuine one," Mr. Chandrasekhar told PTI in Bhopal.
“Why did they drag the investigation for 18 months? First, tell me this. If they have written (seeking a ban on the app), to whom did they (Chhattisgarh government) write, on which address? Have they written to Rahul Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi (both former Congress presidents)? We didn't get any letter,” he said while responding to a query on the Congress' claim about Mr. Baghel seeking the ban.
He said the Chhattisgarh government and the state police know to whom the notification is to be sent.
“They (the state government) have done nothing and they deliberately delayed the investigation for one-and-a-half-years because they wanted to take out ₹508 crore from the app (Mahadev betting app) and they have got the money,” Mr. Chandrasekhar alleged.
The Union Minister said the betting app means illegal and criminal enterprise.
"It is shocking that the Congress is receiving money for its family, politics or for whosoever from such an illegal and criminal enterprise. It is a matter of concern. The standard has come down so low that they will receive and extort money for their politics?" Mr. Chandrasekhar asked.
A day earlier, the BJP had asked former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and CM Baghel to clarify their alleged links with the money transaction in the betting app case.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) 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 Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel so far, and that “these are the subject matter of investigation”.
Mr. Baghel has denied all the allegations against him.
The alleged agent, 38-year-old Asim Das, has been arrested by the agency in Raipur after it recovered ₹5.39 crore cash from him. He was allegedly sent by the app promoters from the UAE “especially, to deliver large amounts of cash for electioneering expenses of the ruling Congress Party”.