I-T raids on Kamal Nath aides raise political storm

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Bhopal, April 7 (IANS) Pre-dawn raids at the premises of confidantes and relatives of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath on Sunday have raised a political storm in the state.

While Kamal Nath maintained a stoic silence on the day’s developments, one of his former officers on special duty (OSD) Bhupendra Gupta said the raids were obviously politically motivated and that their timings could only recoil on the ruling party at the Centre.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, quite predictably, expressed happiness over the shock value of the action.

Former senior Minister and BJP leader Narottam Mishra alleged, “one person had earned Rs 100 crore through his 100 days in office and the Lok Sabha elections would ensure the people bid good bye to his party.”

However, Mishra did not reveal how he arrived at the figures mid-way through the raids.

Searches were conducted on at least 50 premises in Delhi and Madhya Pradesh against people linked to Kamal Nath.

Raids were also carried out at Kamal Nath’s former OSD Praveen Kakkar’s residences in Indore and Delhi’s Green Park. Premises of another former OSD of Kamal Nath, Rajendra Miglaani, in Madhya Pradesh were also searched.

Houses of executives working for Moser Bayer, the maker of computer peripherals, owned by Kamal Nath’s brother-in-law, were also targeted.

Reports suggested the raids were linked to leaks by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) over commissions paid in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case.

Kamal Nath’s nephew Ratul Puri, questioned by the ED a couple of days ago, accepted the action without any fuss. He said he had no link whatsoever with the AgustaWestland deal. Even Kamal Nath was unruffled by the questioning.

Former IPS officer Kakkar and Miglani had resigned from their posts after the Lok Sabha polls were announced.

Kakkar’s residence at Indore’s Vijay Nagar was searched by 15 police officers from Delhi who landed there at about 3 a.m. The officers claimed to have recovered some incriminating documents, which were being scrutinised, said sources linked to the Indore Police. The state police were reportedly kept in the dark about the raids.

Kakkar had earlier served as the OSD to former Union Minister Kantilal Bhuria during the UPA regime. His family is associated with several businesses, including hospitality. The police said searches were conducted in Goa also.

Raids were also being carried out against a Kolkata-based businessman, Paras Mal Lodha. Kamal Nath has several businesses in Kolkata.

Govind Singh, Minister for General Administration in the MP government, said the actions reflected character of Narendra Modi and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which can’t stand those who oppose them.

He said one classic example of the Modi government’s vindictive nature was when its officials searched premises of former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh during his daughter’s wedding.

Congress spokesperson K.K. Tiwari said Sunday’s raids showed that government agencies were being misused for political reasons. But the top BJP leadership would not succeed in demoralising the state government, he added.

“The Congress would take appropriate action at the appropriate time to deal with such misadventure. This bunch of thieves should not try to teach us political conduct,” Tiwari said.

Meanwhile, Kamal Nath’s office said the Chief Minister would continue to cooperate with the agencies.

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