Polltime raids in MP: Kamal Nath aides, 11 Congress candidates

Investigation reports and testimonies submitted by the Income Tax Department to the Election Commission, and now, allege money transfers to 11 Congress candidates of the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections in Madhya Pradesh as well as payments to the tune of Rs 20 crore made to the All India Congress Committee (AICC).

In all, five key persons connected to Chief Minister Kamal Nath were covered in search operations conducted on April 7, 2019. IT investigators are said to have matched accounting records with testimonies and tracked money transfers through WhatsApp chats and intercepted phone conversations. Transcripts of these calls have not been submitted to the EC yet but it alleged that money was “diverted for use of various candidates” while recommending, in writing on May 4, a CBI inquiry.

Investigators’ records show that former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and 2019 candidate from Bhopal Digvijaya Singh tops the list of candidates who received election funds from persons covered in the searches and that these details were gleaned from the computer of one Lalit Kumar Challani, described by IT in its report, as an accountant who worked with R K Miglani and Praveen Kakkar, former aides of the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister.

Records show that Lok Sabha candidates allegedly received between Rs 25-Rs 50 lakh through Challani and Digvijaya Singh received Rs 90 lakh. IT has noted that signed receipts for these payments have been traced only in the case of two candidates Rajaram Tripathi (Satna) and Madhu Bhagat (Balaghat).

The EC has taken the view that since statements for election expenses for the Lok Sabha candidates will come in only by end June, its action can wait.

The other Lok Sabha candidates who allegedly received funds through the “target group” are Meenakshi Natarajan (Mandsaur); Kamal Maravi (Mandla); Pramila Singh (Shahdol); Ajay Sing Rahul (Sidhi); Devashish Jarariya (Bhind); Shailender Singh Divan (Hoshangabad); Kavita Singh Natiraja (Khajuraho); and Pratap Singh Lodhi (Damoh).

In the case of funding for Assembly elections, the IT Department’s conclusion is that, in all, Rs 17.9 crore was given by the group to 87 candidates and, of them, 40 have been elected to the Legislative Assembly.

The EC has said that none of the receipts has been reflected in expense statements submitted by them and that amounts provided to candidates for the Assembly polls, in many cases, was above the prescribed ceiling of Rs 28 lakh.

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