The Income Tax department has claimed that some of the people raided in Madhya Pradesh last month had transferred election funds of Rs 25 lakh to Rs 90 lakh each to 11 Congress Lok Sabha candidates in the state, The Indian Express reported on Tuesday.
Premises connected to five close aides of Chief Minister Kamal Nath, including Praveen Kakkad and RK Miglani, were searched on April 7. The searches were conducted at 50 locations across Bhopal, Goa, Indore and Delhi. The Indian Express report is based on investigation records accessed by the newspaper.
Investigators in the tax department on May 4 recommended an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation, and reportedly submitted evidence to the Election Commission. The poll panel has said it will wait for candidates’ final statements on election expenses, which are expected by the end of June.
The suspected evidence was found in the computer of an accountant who worked with Miglani and Kakkar. Ten candidates allegedly received Rs 25 lakh to Rs 50 lakh, while Bhopal candidate Digvijaya Singh allegedly got Rs 90 lakh. Signed receipts for these payments could be traced only in the case of two candidates.
The tax department also reportedly found Rs 17.9 crore was transferred to 87 candidates in the Assembly elections, which took place in December. In this case, the poll panel said expense lists submitted by candidates did not reflect any of the receipts. Also, the amounts allegedly given to candidates were above the ceiling of Rs 28 lakh in many cases, the poll panel added.
Most candidates named in the allegations denied the claims or declined to comment to The Indian Express. A number of them claimed the transfers were legal and made into their bank accounts. Digvijaya Singh was unavailable for comment.
Kamal Nath’s response
When asked about the findings, Kamal Nath told the newspaper that he had “nothing to do with it”. He was unperturbed by a CBI investigation in the case. “It will have no effect,” Nath added. “They can keep saying what they want. One of the persons raided, Himanshu Sharma, has already appeared on TV saying he works for the BJP.”
Several sections in records provided to the CBI on May 17 link the recovered evidence and testimonies to Nath himself, according to the news report. Funds were allegedly raised by various government departments in the state, a detailed account for which was reportedly recovered from Praveen Kakkad’s WhatsApp messages. The highest amount, over Rs 54 crore, was allegedly “raised” by the transport department.
The accountant whose computer allegedly had the evidence also transferred Rs 17 crore to the All India Congress Committee to be used for the Lok Sabha elections, evidence from his phones show, according to The Indian Express. Vijayan Damodaran, a staff member at Nath’s Delhi home, admitted to dropping off Rs 20 crore in cash from Nath’s home to the All India Congress Committee office on April 6, the investigators alleged.
I-T searches on April 7
After the April 7 raids, the Income Tax department had claimed that the raids exposed a “well-organised” racket involving unaccounted cash of Rs 281 crore, and that a part of the cash had been transferred to the headquarters of a “major political party in Delhi”. This allegedly included Rs 20 crore moved through “hawala” or illegal transaction channels from the residence of a “senior functionary at Tughlak Road, Delhi”, the tax department had said.