Last Updated: November 06, 2023, 15:16 IST
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel prolonged a probe against the Mahadev Betting app for one-and-a-half years and took kickbacks of Rs 508 crore from the same accused for a political campaign while taking no action to ban the app, Minister of State for Information and Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar has told News18 in an interview.
The Centre acted on Sunday to ban 22 apps, including Mahadev Betting, after the Enforcement Directorate wrote to it earlier in the day. Baghel alleged that the Centre had caused a long delay in banning the app. “There has been a long delay because he as the government of Chhattisgarh started investigating these apps one-and-a-half years ago and it was fully within his power to have written a letter to the Government of India and MEiTY to ask for the blocking of those apps. He could have done it within the first five minutes of detecting these betting apps but he chose not to do it,” Chandrasekhar told News18. He said not a single letter was received on the issue from Baghel.
“Baghel chose to have this investigation go on for 1.5 years and has obviously collected Rs 508 crore as a consequence of extending this investigation…and today when he is caught by the ED and us, he is creating this narrative that this was not his responsibility. It was squarely his responsibility and it was his administration that was investigating the illegal criminal app and it was his duty to ask for the blocking of these apps immediately upon starting of the probe,” the MoS said.
Chandrasekhar said instead Baghel has done obviously what is now known to everybody that he prolonged the investigation for 1.5 years and did not take any action against the app. “What we have is that he has profited from the same people with kickbacks of Rs 508 crore. He has to answer where that money came from and why he did not act on banning this illegal criminal enterprise — and how he is collecting money and conducting a political campaign with money from such criminal elements,” Chandrasekhar told News18.
The minister also asked if the CM had told Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi about the app while kept the Centre uninformed about the matter. “These are all legitimate questions if you (Baghel) are sitting and doing nothing for 1.5 years and you have suddenly got Rs 508 crore… they are not giving that money to you for your good looks and charm so therefore a criminal enterprise when it is caught giving Rs 508 crore to a CM, then answers need to be given,” the minister said.
He further said the Centre acted within hours to ban the 22 apps after it received a request from the ED on Sunday.
“I cannot second guess what law enforcement agencies will do to bring the accused to book,” Chandrasekhar said on arresting the accused behind the Mahadev app who are sitting in a foreign land.