regular-article-logo Wednesday, 04 October 2023

ED searches in Rajasthan 'anticipated' as elections are approaching: CM Gehlot

While the Opposition BJP in the state defended the Enforcement Directorate action, saying the law will take its course, the Congress said the agency has come to state on a 'political task'

PTI Jaipur Published 05.06.23, 06:21 PM
Ashok Gehlot.

Ashok Gehlot. File picture

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday accused the Centre of misusing its investigative agencies and said the Enforcement Directorate (ED) searches in the state were "anticipated" as the assembly elections are approaching.

The ED conducted searches at multiple locations in Rajasthan during the day in connection with a money laundering investigation into an alleged exam paper leak case for recruitment of government teachers in the state, according to sources in New Delhi.


While the opposition BJP in the state defended the ED action, saying the law will take its course, the Congress said the ED has come to Rajasthan on a "political task".

The chief minister also accused the Centre of targeting his Officer on Special Duty Lokesh Sharma in a phone tapping case.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event here, Gehlot said the ED, CBI and the Income Tax department were "eagerly desirous" to enter Rajasthan, and accused the Centre of misusing these agencies in election-bound states for political vendetta.

He questioned why the ED was "intervening" when the state's Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) was doing such a "good job" in investigating the leakage of papers in the government's teacher recruitment exam.

"ACB is doing such a good job, why are you intervening? Earlier also, the ED was sent in a paper leak case but what happened after that? Why do you interfere without any reason," Gehlot asked.

He also said that the ED should also cooperate with the ACB if the federal agency gets something in the course of its searches.

Gehlot said while he would welcome any action that is taken as per the law, the action by the central government was taken for political vendetta and to create an atmosphere to defame the state government.

"ED's arrival in Rajasthan was anticipated. People are saying ED officials who have come have been given a list (of names) and asked to see how many they can reach," the chief minister said.

"ED, CBI and Income Tax are yearning to enter Rajasthan… it is a good thing, but the state's Anti-Corruption Bureau has caught a member of the Rajasthan Public Service Commission (RPSC), and ED officials should tell their bosses why they are sending them to Rajasthan where the ACB is strong and has done excellent work," he said in reply to a question on the searches.

Alleging that the central government was targeting OSD Lokesh Sharma, Gehlot said, "They are after him despite the fact that there is no evidence against him. The acts they are doing are not in the interest of the country in any manner." The Delhi Police registered an FIR in March 2021 against Sharma on charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and unlawfully intercepting telegraphic signals (telephonic conversation) on a complaint by Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.

Referring to the arrest of RPSC member Babulal Katara by the Special Operations Group (RPSC) of the Rajasthan Police last month in the paper leak case, Gehlot said Katara was not asked to resign before being apprehended as the government wanted to send out a message.

BJP Rajya Sabha MP Kirodi Lal Meena claimed that ED raids were underway at 28 locations due to which the paper leak mafia was panicking.

"The state government, which has been giving protection to them till now, is also afraid that if the truth surfaces, the chief minister who calls himself a Gandhian will be exposed," he said in a statement.

"I exposed with proof that the entire recruitment system is in the clutches of 'nakal mafia'. Not a single recruitment took place in which there was no cheating. I repeatedly requested the chief minister for a CBI inquiry. He did not agree as the government itself is involved," Meena alleged.

The BJP leader also accused the chief minister of being involved in covering up the case by acting on "small fish" while the "big crocodiles" were still far from being caught.

He alleged that the SOG was not arresting the mastermind of the senior teacher recruitment exam paper leaks of 2022 Suresh Dhaka because he knows the secrets of many such "big crocodiles".

Defending the ED searches, Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore said, "ED will certainly come when there are transactions of lakhs and crores of rupees by looting government jobs and selling papers." Meanwhile, Rajasthan Congress chief Govind Singh Dotasra said, "Modi-Shah's central government does this in every state before elections but the BJP should get rid of the misconception that elections are won by using ED-Income Tax. To win elections, one has to win the hearts of the people." The state has witnessed a few instances where it was alleged that question papers for recruitment of teachers were leaked to aspirants, including in 2021 during the hiring of teachers by the state education board and last year in a test conducted by the Rajasthan Public Service Commission (RPSC).

Besides Katara, the SOG has arrested several other accused in connection with the paper leaks.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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