Four states scheduled to hold Assembly elections in November have seen several Enforcement Directorate raids, arrests and summons in the past few months. The Enforcement Directorate’s raids in Rajasthan on Friday is the latest action the agency has taken in poll-bound states.

While the central agency conducted fresh searches in Rajasthan on Friday, it made seizures worth Rs 14.92 crore in Chhattisgarh. Madhya Pradesh has seen an old case against Congress leader Kamal Nath’s nephew Ratul Puri being revived and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s daughter K Kavitha received a fresh summons in the Delhi liquor policy case in September.

Assembly elections in Rajasthan will be held on November 25. Madhya Pradesh will go to polls on November 17 and Telangana on November 30. Chhattisgarh will vote in two phases on November 7 and November 17.

ED actions in Rajasthan

The agency conducted searches of 25 premises on Friday in the Congress-ruled state under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in connection with the alleged Jal Jivan Mission scam, reported PTI.

The raids were carried out in Jaipur and Dausa, including at the premises of minister Mahesh Joshi, reported the Hindustan Times. The premises of Subodh Agarwal, the additional chief secretary in the public health engineering department, some engineers, contractors and former state government officials were also searched, reported ANI.

The Jal Jeevan Mission, being implemented by the Rajasthan Public Health Engineering Department, is aimed at providing safe and adequate drinking water through household tap connections.

The money laundering case is based on a first information report by the Rajasthan Anti-Corruption Bureau. The FIR alleged that the proprietors of Shree Shyam Tubewell Company and Shree Ganpati Tubewell Company among others paid bribes to public servants to obtain tenders, get bills sanctioned and cover up irregularities in work done by them on tenders received from the public health department.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has alleged that the Enforcement Directorate is acting on orders of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government to target Opposition leaders.

In October, the agency had summoned the chief minister’s son Vaibhav Gehlot for questioning in a case related to alleged violations of the Foreign Exchange Management Act.

A day before that, raids were conducted at properties linked to Rajasthan Congress president and MLA Govind Singh Dotasra and Independent MLA Om Prakash Hudla.

ED actions in Chhattisgarh

On Thursday, the Enforcement Directorate made seizures worth Rs 14.92 crore, including Rs 4.92 crore in cash in Raipur and Bhilai, reported The Indian Express.

“Acting on an intelligence input that a large amount of cash is being moved in Chhattisgarh by the promoters of Mahadev app in relation to Assembly elections, a search operation is going on from Thursday afternoon,” an official of the agency was quoted as saying.

The agency also arrested a man who was allegedly sent from the United Arab Emirates to deliver the money. Of the total cash, Rs 3.12 crore was seized from an SUV parked in a hotel while Rs 1.80 crore was recovered from a house.

Mahadev Online Book, a betting app, reportedly enables illegal betting in live games such as poker, cricket, tennis and football as well as on elections in India. Sourabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal, the two main promoters of the app, are wanted in connection with the case.

In August, the Enforcement Directorate had conducted searches at the premises of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel’s political adviser Vinod Verma and two Officers on Special Duty in Raipur and Durg.

Meanwhile, Baghel has alleged that the BJP may use the Central Reserve Police Force and the Enforcement Directorate to influence voters in the state.

“There is a lot of presence of CRPF here, so what is the motive of bringing more force?” asked the chief minister. “The motive may be bringing cash or something else. BJP can go down to any level to win the election. This is a very serious issue and the Congress party will file a complaint to the Election Commission.”

ED actions in Madhya Pradesh

In August, the agency made a fresh arrest in a Rs 354 crore bank fraud-linked money laundering case involving Ratul Puri, the businessman nephew of senior Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, and several others, reported PTI.

Nitin Bhatnagar, a former relationship manager of the Bank of Singapore, was also arrested under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

The case is based on a 2019 FIR by the Central Bureau of Investigation, which alleged that CD manufacturer Moser Baer India Ltd and its promoters defrauded the loan taken from the Central Bank of India to the tune of Rs 354.51 crore.

The CBI and ED had booked Ratul Puri, his father Deepak Puri, mother Nita in the case in 2019.

ED actions in Telangana

Bharat Rashtra Samithi MLC K Kavitha was summoned by the Enforcement Directorate in September in connection with a case related to the now-scrapped Delhi liquor policy.

The Delhi government’s excise policy came into effect in November 2021. Under it, licences of 849 liquor shops were issued to private firms through open bidding. Earlier, four government corporations ran 475 liquor stores and the remaining 389 were private shops.

However, the policy was later withdrawn by the Aam Aadmi Party-led government after Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry, alleging irregularities in the policy’s formulation and implementation.

The Enforcement Directorate has alleged that Kavitha is part of the “South Group” that paid at least Rs 100 crore in kickbacks to leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party through arrested businessman Vijay Nair. She was first summoned for questioning in the national capital on March 11.

Also read: How the Modi government has weaponised the ED to go after India’s Opposition