Bhopal: A political slugfest has erupted over income tax raids on those close to the Congress government in the state with party leaders taking to the streets alleging political vendetta and forcing police to cordon off the local income tax office in Raipur on Saturday.
“Armed forces are moving around in the state and there has been an atmosphere of fear,” Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said, calling it ‘Badlapur’ (act of vendetta).
“It’s an attempt to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere in Chhattisgarh,” Baghel said, while his minister Amarjeet Bhagat said the BJP was using central agencies to terrorise the Congress leadership.
Congress state in-charge PL Punia wrote on Twitter, “Having failed politically, the BJP is now trying to browbeat the popular Congress govt in Chhattisgarh through gross misuse of central agencies.”
The BJP, however, hit out at the Baghel dispensation and asked if the latter wanted the I-T department to shut shop in the state. Former minister Rajesh Munat wrote on Twitter, “After banning the CBI in state, whether the Congress govt would ban the IT dept as well.”
Hundreds of Congress workers marched towards the I-T office in Raipur on Saturday, breaking barricades and clashing with police. They also staged a dharna at Gandhi Maidan.
BJP spokesperson Gaurishankar Srivas said as I-T office remained shut on Saturday, the Congress workers might gherao the security guard on duty.
Baghel cancelled a cabinet meet scheduled for the day and is likely to rush to New Delhi to consult the party high command over the latest development. He is also said to be seeking advice from legal experts.
Those raided by the I-T officers include former chief secretary Vivek Dhand, IAS officer Anil Tuteja, Deputy Secretary at the Chief Minister’s Officer Saumya Chaurasia, Raipur Mayor Ejaz Dhebar and several businessmen, considered close to the ruling camp in the state.
A day ago, the traffic police had seized vehicles of the I-T officers alleging they were parked in a no-parking zone. A team of tax officials was seen sleeping outside Chaurasia house after they failed to unlock the house even after 12 hours.
The raids came days after officials of the Economic Offence Wing met the ex-personal secretary of former chief Raman Singh, Aman Singh, and his wife Yasmin over alleged financial irregularities.