Bhopal: Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel on Saturday turned the tax raids on his close aides, including his deputy secretary Soumya Chourasia, a Centre vs state issue.
Mr Baghel, who rushed to Delhi to ‘consult legal experts’ and brief the Congress high command on the whole development, took strong exception to how raids were conducted on some party leaders and bureaucrats in the state without prior information. “The IT raids were conducted in Chhattisgarh without informing the state government. This is unethical and against the spirit of federalism,” Mr Baghel said reacting to the tax raids.
He further said that an atmosphere of fear has been created in the state following the tax raids at several places in Chhattisgarh, which continued for the third day on Saturday. He appeared particularly upset with tax authorities for targeting his deputy secretary dubbing it ‘political revenge’ and an attempt to destabilise his government.
“We have never stopped IT raids because the state had prior information about it. However, this time the state government was not taken into confidence by the tax authorities before conducting raids,” he added.
The IT sleuths were forced to wait at Ms Chourasia’s residence in Bhilai, nearly 30 km from Raipur in Chhattisgarh, for around 50 hours for not being able to find her and later sealed her home on Saturday. The Congress staged a demonstration at the IT office in Raipur to protest the raids.
Meanwhile, Mr Baghel cancelled his cabinet meeting, scheduled to be held at Raipur on Saturday afternoon, and rushed to Delhi brief to the Congress high command and get a legal opinion on the issue.
However, his flight force landed at Jeypore in Rajasthan owing to bad weather, Chhattisgarh PCC media wing chief S.N. Trivedy told this newspaper.
“Mr Baghel was scheduled to meet Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi at six in the evening on Saturday. But, his flight landed at Jeypore due to inclement weather. His flight will resume its journey to Delhi after being cleared by air traffic control,” he added.
In another development, two CBI teams landed in Raipur from Delhi in the wake of reports that the tax raids had unearthed non-political funding.
Interestingly, the Chhattisgarh government has earlier announced to bar CBI from entering the state.
The raids were also conducted on houses of senior Congress leader and Raipur mayor Ejaj Dhebar, former chief secretary of the state and chairman of Chhattisgarh unit of Rera Vivek Dhand, kin of IAS officer Anil Tuteja, liquor baron Pappu Bhati and local TV channel promoter Guru Charan Singh Hora.