Amid Rajasthan Crisis, ED, IT Raids on People Close to Gehlot; Cong Questions Timing of the Move

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Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

Rajasthan Congress leaders question timing of I-T raids amid crisis on supporters of CM Gehlot

JAIPUR/NEW DELHI — The Rajasthan political crisis took a new turn on Monday when the Income Tax and Enforcement Directorate teams raided multiple premises connected to people from Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s camp.

According to IT department officials, searches were underway in offices of veteran state Congress leaders, including Rajeev Arora and Dharmendra Rathod, considered close to the Chief Minister.

Unaccounted cash, jewellery, property papers and lockers were seized. The team also reached Bhilwara and Jhalawad to carry out searches, officials said.

In wake of this, the Congress has postponed its legislature party meeting by a few hours, while the party’s state whip Mahesh Joshi and national media in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala hit out at the BJP for “misusing investigative agencies for its self-fulfilling goals”.

According to IT department sources, searches were also carried out in Delhi at premises of one of the Kothari brothers, who once was awarded a mega irrigation project in Rajasthan and faced complaints of irregularities in dam construction.

The sources said that the searches were conducted at the office premises of Om Metals Infra Projects Ltd in Saket area and at Kothari’s residential premises in Sainik Farms area.

Meanwhile, the ED team also carried out searches at Hotel Fairmont in Jaipur.

According to ED sources, investor Ratan Kant Sharma, a close aide of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s son Vaibhav Gehlot, is under the financial probe agency’s scanner.

An ED source claimed that Sharma had allegedly received around Rs 96.7 crore from Mauritius and has stakes in Hotel Fairmont.

The ED source claimed that Sharma and Vaibhav Gehlot are business partners.

Sharma was summoned by the ED four days ago. The agency suspects that large scale overseas transactions have taken place.

A crisis brew up in Rajasthan after Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot revolted against the Gehlot-led government.

Meanwhile, chief whip of Rajasthan government Mahesh Joshi while speaking to reporters outside the residence of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot where a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party has been convened condemned the income tax raids on premises linked to two Congress leaders.

The premises are linked to Congress leaders Rajiv Arora and Dharmendra Rathore. Cooperative Minister Udailal Anjana also questioned the timing of the raids.

“I condemn this. The raids are uncalled for and intended at threatening but we are not going to be distracted or scared by this,” he said, reports PTI.

“Entire country is watching this,” Joshi added.

“This was done to create pressure. It apparently looks like leaders who are sitting in Delhi are behind these raids,” Joshi further said.

Cooperative Minister Udailal Anjana also questioned the timing of the raids.

“This was done to create pressure. It apparently looks like leaders who are sitting in Delhi are behind these raids,” he said.

— IANS (with PTI inputs)

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