BJP, ED trying to save Mahadev betting app promoters: Chhattisgarh CM
Raipur, Nov 6 (PTI) A day after the Centre blocked the controversial Mahadev app, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Monday alleged the BJP and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) were trying to save its promoters and said the Information Technology ministry has banned an online betting platform that was already unavailable on the Indian server.
Talking to reporters in Raipur, Baghel said the Centre should identify fake bank accounts being used for online betting in the country and freeze them immediately.
“I have already said the BJP, anticipating its defeat in the Chhattisgarh polls, has put the ED and I-T in the front. The person (referring to 'cash courier' Asim Das) who has been arrested (by ED) is said to be close to the BJP and the vehicle (from where cash linked to Mahadev betting app was seized) also belongs to some BJP leader. So, the person and the vehicle belong to them, while the ED which has taken action (in app case) functions as a BJP wing,” the Congress leader alleged.
Baghel, who has been linked to the app row by the ED, said the Mahadev betting platform, promoted by two Chhattisgarh residents who are now in Dubai, was unavailable on the Indian server long before it was banned by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on Sunday.
“Investigation (into Mahadev app case) is underway since the last two years. They (Centre) have blocked an app which is already unavailable in Playstore on the Indian server. Their (Centre) intention is not to block it. They (Mahadev app promoters) send their customers APK (file format) for betting. They use WhatsApp and Telegram channels for the purpose which are still functioning. Action should be taken against this. All such groups should be banned in the country,” he added.
The Chief Minister demanded a complete ban on online betting.
"Nothing is going to stop until online betting is completely shut. Those involved in online betting have opened lakhs of fake bank accounts in the country which see transactions of hefty money. Most of these accounts are in new nationalized banks and these accounts are closed in a short term. The Centre should identify such accounts, freeze them and seize the money lying there...then only online betting can be controlled,” he said.
The Congress leader alleged the entire episode indicates the BJP is staring at a defeat in the assembly polls in the state, which will vote on November 7 and 17.
"We have frozen 3,000 to 4,000 fake bank accounts. Every child of Chhattisgarh knows that main promoters of the Mahadev app are Ravi Uppal and Saurabh Chandrakar, but the ED doesn't know it. The BJP knows that it is going to face defeat. They want mines of Chhattisgarh for their 'aaka' (industrial masters)," he added.
Reacting to a video shared by the BJP on Sunday in which a man identified himself as Subham Soni and levelled allegations against him in context of the Mahadev betting app, Baghel asserted the clip is not going to make any difference to election outcome.
“This new person (Soni) has been mentioned as an office-bearer of the Mahadev app in the ED's press note. Next day, a video comes in which he claims he is the owner of Mahadev app, while Saurabh Chandrakar and another person are his employees. He is such a generous man that he spent Rs 200 crore to Rs 250 crore on the wedding of his servant (referring to Chandrakar). We have never heard of any person spending so much money on the wedding of his servant," the CM remarked.
“You must have seen in the clip how many times he (Soni) stops while making his video. How many times cut and paste job had been done. It was immediately publicized through the 'godi' (pliant) media. But its publicity is not going to make any difference as voters have made up their mind. Those involved in conspiracy were limited to 15 seats last time (2018 polls) and this time they are not going to get even that many seats,” he said, targeting the BJP.
While the ED released a press note over its probe into the multi-crore app case, the BJP shared the video, he said.
"It shows the cordial relationship between the two. It has revealed the collusion between the BJP and the ED. Till November 17th (when second and last phase of voting will take place) something will continue to come up. Who has stopped any investigation? But if just allegations are to be levelled then I will also do the same. The BJP and the ED are trying to save Mahadev app's promoters. It is my allegation,” Baghel said.
The BJP on Sunday shared a video of Soni, an accused in the Mahadev Book betting app case, saying he is the "owner" of the online betting platform and had the "proof" of paying Rs 508 crore so far to Baghel.
In the video, a man identifies himself as Shubham Soni and claims he is the owner of the Mahadev Book betting app. He claimed Rs 508 crore has been given to "Baghel saheb" and others so far.
"Despite giving money, my work is not getting done. I don't understand what to do with this system. The ED has started action against me. My last request to our Indian government is to help me. I am trapped in this political system. I want to get out of it. I have evidence regarding the money I have given. Please help me. I want to go back to India. I am scared," Soni is heard saying.
The Centre has issued blocking orders against 22 illegal betting platforms, including the Mahadev app, at the ED's request, an official statement said on Sunday in New Delhi.
The ED, probing Mahadev betting app case, had last week 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 Rs 508 crore to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel so far, and that "these are subject matter of investigation". PTI