BJP demands Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel's resignation over 'liquor scam'

BJP spokesperson K. K. Sharma also took a swipe at Bhupesh Baghel for his claim that the ED was trying to implicate him in the matter, asking if this was a "confession" from him about his role or merely an expression of his suspicion.

May 12, 2023 03:53 pm | Updated 03:53 pm IST - New Delhi

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. File

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. File | Photo Credit: PTI

The BJP on May 12 demanded Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel's resignation over an alleged ₹2,000-crore liquor scam in the State, claiming that corruption at such a big scale for more than four years was not possible without links to his government.

BJP spokesperson K. K. Sharma also took a swipe at Mr. Baghel for his claim that the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Central agency probing the case, was trying to implicate him in the matter, asking if this was a "confession" from him about his role or merely an expression of his suspicion.

IAS officer Anil Tuteja ‘kingpin’ of illegal liquor syndicate in Chhattisgarh along with Raipur mayor’s brother: ED

Noting that Anwar Dhebar, who has been arrested in the case and is the elder brother of Raipur Mayor and Congress leader Aijaz Dhebar, is a private person and holds no position in the government, Mr. Sharma said he used to hold meetings with liquor dealers and government officials.

The liquor industry in the State is run by the government, from procurement to retail, but it was Anwar Dhebar who "captured" the public body tasked with running the business and recommended names of officials for appointment there, Mr. Sharma claimed, asserting that it could not be possible without "State protection" to him.

It was ensured that liquor produced illegally was sold from government shops and it accounted for 30-40% of the total business, the BJP leader said, adding that this scam alone ran into ₹1,200-1,500 crore.

Citing ED statements, he said commissions were pocketed from liquor dealers and the total scam money was worth ₹2,000 crore.

Mr. Sharma said Mr. Baghel should explain his relationship with Anwar Dhebar and take responsibility for the scandal. "He should immediately resign from his post," he demanded.

Chhattisgarh has become an ATM for the Congress, Mr. Sharma said, adding that party leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi should also speak on this "loot" from the State that has a large tribal population.

Two fresh arrests — a hotelier and a liquor businessman — have been made and assets worth ₹28 crore seized in a money-laundering case linked to the alleged ₹2,000-crore liquor syndicate scam in Chhattisgarh, the ED said on May 11.

Anwar Dhebar was the first person to be arrested by the agency in this case. He was apprehended last week.

Mr. Baghel on Thursday accused the ED of trying to implicate him in the alleged liquor scam. The ED has been acting as an agent of the BJP, the Chief Minister claimed while talking to reporters in Raipur.

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