The Congress, a constituent of the ruling JMM-led coalition in Jharkhand, on Wednesday described ED raids at premises linked to a state minister’s son and some others as a ‘political vendetta’ at the behest of the BJP government at the Centre to tarnish the image of opposition bloc INDIA before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Several of the places raided by the ED as part of a money laundering investigation in connection with an alleged liquor scam in the state were linked to senior Congress leader and Finance Minister Rameshwar Oroan’s son Rohit Oraon.
“The ED raids are nothing but an action of a political vendetta at the behest of the BJP at the Centre to tarnish the image of the INDIA alliance before the 2024 parliamentary elections,” Jharkhand Congress president Rajesh Thakur told PTI.
He demanded that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) should clarify its stance first.
The Congress leader asked, “Is the ED conducting similar raids in the entire country, or liquor is sold only in Jharkhand, Delhi and Chhattisgarh?”
Hitting out at the Centre, Thakur demanded to know whether there is no scam in BJP-ruled states.
About 34 places in the state capital Ranchi, Dumka, Deoghar and Godda districts are being searched by officials of the central probe agency.
The premises of the senior Oraon are being covered as the father and the son live in the same house. Business and residential premises of some liquor businessmen are also being covered, officials said.
The current investigation is being conducted under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), they said.
Rameshwar Oraon, 76, who holds the portfolios of finance, planning and commercial tax in the Jharkhand cabinet represents the Lohardaga (ST) assembly seat.
Oraon, a retired IPS officer of the 1972 batch, has earlier served as a Union cabinet minister under prime minister Manmohan Singh.
Thakur also questioned the timing of the ED summons to Chief Minister Hemant Soren on August 15.
The ED had sent a notice to Soren to depose on August 14 at the agency’s office here and record his statement under the PMLA, which he skipped.
“The ED was in such a haste that it chose August 14, the eve of Independence Day, to summon the CM,” Thakur said.
Soren had alleged in a letter to the ED that he was being targeted for not being aligned with a political party at the Centre.
Terming his assets as not illegal, the CM has asked the ED to withdraw the summons.
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