Congress alleges Narendra Modi versus Shivraj Singh Chouhan angle

In the intervening night of Friday and Saturday, a Central Bureau of Investigation team from New Delhi arrested Income Tax Deputy Commissioner Poonam Rai and her husband Ganesh Malviya — a former national election cell co-convenor of the BJP — for accepting a bribe of Rs. 10 lakh from Ramayan Builders and Developers. A Special CBI court in Bhopal handed over custody of the couple to the CBI until April 1, 2014, on Saturday.

After the CBI had received a complaint from Rajesh Bhadoria, the owner of the firm and the convenor of the BJP's State cultural cell, the agency kept the couple under surveillance. The bribe of Rs. 10 lakh was the first instalment of Rs. 25 lakh allegedly demanded by Ms. Rai to overlook discrepancies in the company's returns. The bribe was sent through two conduits — an accountant and an employee of Mr. Malviya — who led the CBI to the couple's residence where they were nabbed.

In court, the judge reprimanded Mr. Malviya for interrupting proceedings. Outside the court, Mr. Malviya claimed he was a victim of a political conspiracy. Mr. Bhadoria is considered close to Mr. Chouhan.

“Malviya was a personal secretary of Vikram Verma when the latter was Union Cabinet Minister of Youth Affairs and sports. Poonam Rai was Verma's paying guest at that time,” said Opposition Leader Satyadev Katare.

“This is the India Narendra Modi is dreaming about where a co-covenor in BJP's national cell asks a BJP's State convenor to pay a bribe of Rs. 25 lakh that too at a building of the BJP. Even partymen have to pay bribes to get work done,” Mr. Katare said while releasing pictures of Mr. Malviya with the BJP's prime ministerial candidate and Mr. Chouhan.

BJP spokesman Hitesh Bajpai called the allegations baseless. “This is totally apolitical and something he (Mr. Malviya) did in his personal capacity. I am not competent to answer if he held any post in Delhi. He was not an office bearer in MP,” he told The Hindu.