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Updated December 27th, 2023 at 11:37 IST

Saffron wave wipes out Cong in Chhattisgarh. Here is how Mahadev scam expose sealed Baghel's fate

The betting app controversy surrounding Chief Minister Baghel became a focal point with Modi targeting Baghel over corruption throughout the poll campaign.

Reported by: Isha Bhandari
Chhattisgarh
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. | Image:PTI
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Raipur: With the latest trends from the Election Commission (EC) indicating Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) successful cross over the  halfway mark in the 90-member assembly, questions loom over the Mahadev betting app card played by the Opposition. 

Did the allegations against Chhattisgarh’s incumbent Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel related to the Mahadev betting app seemingly play a crucial role in the electoral outcome of the Chhattisgarh Assembly polls? With 54 seats in their favor, the BJP has surged ahead, while the Congress trails with 35 seats, according to the EC's latest updates. The halfway mark in the Chhattisgarh assembly stands at 46 seats, and the BJP's lead suggests a significant electoral shift in the state.

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The betting app controversy surrounding Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel became a focal point in the campaign, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the star campaigner for the BJP, specifically targeting Baghel over issues of corruption and a purported job scam. 

The BJP's strategic emphasis on these issues appears to have resonated with voters, contributing to their electoral gains. 

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Republic’s sting operation in the multi-crore scam 

Bhupesh Baghel faced the heat as the Republic sting operation in the multi-crore Mahadev betting app scam revealed startling facts. In a fresh round of tapes that Republic TV scooped, a man claiming to be Shubham Soni - owner of the Mahadev app - revealed the alleged involvement of the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister. 

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The tape also shows Shubham Soni in Dubai. Soni can be seen claiming how he was allegedly asked by the Chief Minister to shift operations to Dubai. Baghel has so far denied Soni's claims. Earlier, Soni had claimed that he had paid Rs 508 crore to the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister. Latest revelations have raised the heat on the Congress party and Baghel government in the state.

Earlier, tapes in the Mahadev betting scam put the top focus on Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, his office and their alleged involvement in the case. Part 1 of Chhattisgarh tape bombshell allegedly claimed how a man who calls himself Shubham Soni made startling allegations against the Chief Minister's office and said that it was one ‘Verma ji’ who allegedly assisted Mahadev betting app members with protection from the cops.

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In part 2 of the Mahadev scam expose, second testimony of the man claiming himself to be Shubham Soni has alleged that he paid the Chief Minister and the CM office an amount of Rs 508 crore to receive protection from the law.

‘’In my written statement, I have mentioned the amount given, how it was given and the source through which it was given. Now even after paying so much money, my work was not going well, my members were jailed. I was stuck in the web of political systems. Since the time I met Prashant Agarwal ji, till now I have paid Rs 508 crore. I paid Baghel, Bittu and other associates Rs 508 crore and even after that there were a lot of disturbances in my work,'' the man claiming to be Shubham Soni said. 

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Further, the man claiming to be Shubham Soni - owner of the Mahadev app - said that he met Chief Minister Baghel, who asked him to negotiate with the top cop if he wanted members of the Mahadev app to be out of jail.

"Chief Minister Baghel has a habit of turning his back. I have faced this too. When he sent me to Dubai and asked me to meet people and settle my job, I met people and my work was settled. After that I started facing troubles. My people were jailed, they were not freed despite making several calls. I then called Verma ji and he asked me to go back to Bhilai where he would arrange another meeting. I was scared but I did reach Bhilai. Verma ji and Girish met me at the Raipur airport road. Verma ji dropped down there but it was Girish Tiwari who took me ahead and made me meet the then SP Prashant Agarwal and told him my problem. He made some phone calls and had a word. The phone was on speaker so I understood that the person he dialled was the Chief Minister. So then the Chief Minister had a word with me where he said that he had sent me to Dubai to settle the work but I became my boss. I couldn't say a thing, I was upset. I told him that I am a small player and told him that I would do anything that he says. He (chief minister) asked me to speak to Prashant ji and then I left from that place. After that I finalised the deal with Prashant ji and I have mentioned the same in my written statement too.''

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BJP all guns blazing against Baghel govt 

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the Bemetara district in Chhattisgarh has become a centre of “love jihad” and that no one would dare do such an act if the BJP is voted to power in the state.

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He accused Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel of insulting Lord Mahadev by “naming” a betting app after him.

Addressing a rally in Saja assembly constituency of Bemetara district on the last day of campaigning for the second phase of elections in the state, Shah alleged that Baghel had turned the Durg division from being an education hub to a “centre of betting”.

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Bhupesh Baghel takes battle to the BJP 

Maintaining his stand in the multi-crore Mahadev betting app scam, Bhupesh Baghel alleged Asim Das, the person arrested by ED in the case is close to the BJP. Not only that, the vehicle from which cash was seized by the investigation agency also belongs to the relative of a prominent BJP leader, he said.

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“The driver of the car (car from which cash worth crores was seized by ED) is a close aide of a BJP leader, and the car seized belongs to the relative of a prominent BJP leader, what is this irregularity; The ED issues a statement and BJP is releasing the video. To sum it up, just enjoy until November 17. Many similar videos and press statements are yet to come. This will go on until November 17,” said Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel speaking with the media.

Notably, the ED seized the cash purportedly from Asim Das’s vehicle and his residence. “Das has admitted that the seized funds were arranged by the Mahadev app promoters to be delivered to one politician ‘Baghel’ for the upcoming election expenses” in Chhattisgarh, an ED press statement.

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Published December 3rd, 2023 at 16:51 IST

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