New Delhi, Nov 6 (SocialNews.XYZ) A day after the Central government banned 22 mobile apps, including Mahadev Online Book app which is at the centre of controversy in Chhattisgarh ahead of the Assembly polls, the Congress on Monday expressed surprise at the delay to ban it, and said that instead of praising Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent the Enforcement Directorate (ED) after him.
In a post on X, Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said, "ED has been investigating the 'Mahadev App' case for several months. Still, it is surprising that it took so much time to ban it."
He said that the demand to ban Mahadev App was also first made by Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on August 24.
"Instead of praising him, the Prime Minister has sent ED against him," the Congress leader said.
He also slammed BJP IT Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar accusing him of lying and said, "BJP's Union Minister is clearly lying about the fact that Chhattisgarh government had not demanded the ban on Mahadev App."
Giving the details, Ramesh, who is also a Rajya Sabha MP said, "In the press conference held at the Congress headquarters on August 24, 2023, Baghel had also raised the issue of arrest of the accused and giving legal status to online betting by the central government by imposing 28 per cent tax.
"The Chief Minister has been continuously asking questions for several months as to why the Central government is not banning this betting app. He (Baghel) had said that perhaps the ban is not being imposed due to the greed of 28 per cent GST or has the BJP had any dealings with the app operators?" Ramesh claimed.
"The BJP government not only arrested the culprits in this case, but also protected the app operators by giving legal validity to their wrongdoings by collecting taxes. The people of Chhattisgarh are watching everything. The people of the state will give a befitting reply to these actions of BJP by once again giving mandate in favor of Congress in the assembly elections," the Congress leader added.
His remarks came a day after the government on Sunday banned illegal betting app Mahadev Online Book among 21 software and websites.
In a statement, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) issued blocking orders against 22 illegal betting apps and websites, including Mahadev Book and Reddyannaprestopro.
It said that the action was followed after the investigation by the ED against illegal betting app syndicate and subsequent raids on Mahadev Book in Chhattisgarh, revealing the app’s unlawful operations.
The minister said that accused Bhim Singh Yadav, working as a constable in the Chhattisgarh Police force and one Asim Das are currently in custody, having been arrested under the sections of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, and Electronics and Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, “Chhattisgarh government had all the power to recommend shutting down of websites or apps under Sec 69A IT Act. However, they did not do so and no such request was made by the State Government while they have been investigating it for the last 1.5 years. In fact, the first and only request has been received from ED and it has been acted upon. Nothing prevented the Chhattisgarh Government from making similar requests.”
The government action comes on a day when an accused in the Mahadev app case in a video statement claimed that Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel had asked him to go to the UAE.
India's financial probe agency, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday in a statement said that a forensic analysis and a statement made by a ‘cash courier’ had led to “startling allegations” that the promoters of the Mahadev betting app paid about Rs 508 crore to the Chhattisgarh chief minister so far, and that “these are subject matter of investigation”.
The ED also claimed that it had recovered Rs 5.39 crore cash from the courier, whom it identified as Asim Das.
A charge sheet was recently filed by the ED in the Mahadev app case where a total of 14 accused were named, including main promoters Sourabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal.
Polling for the 90-member Assembly in Chhattisgarh is scheduled on November 7 and 17 in two phases and counting of votes will take place on December 3.