IT officials said I could become Chh’garh CM if I overthrew the government: coal trader

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A coal trader, whose premises were recently raided by the Chhattisgarh income tax department, has claimed computer sleuths told him he could become chief minister of the state if he used his dealings with ruling Congress MPs to overthrow the government of Bhupesh Baghel with the support of “the opposition”.

In a video message shared on social media on Sunday, the trader, Suryakant Tiwari, claimed income tax officials told him he could become ‘Eknath Shinde of Chhattisgarh’ if he accused an official of the CMO.

The opposition BJP alleged that Tiwari’s statement was made at the behest of Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, which it called baseless.

The Congress, on the other hand, said the BJP was trying to destabilize a democratically elected government in Chhattisgarh and cited “examples from Karnataka, MP, Manipur and Maharashtra.”

Tiwari also alleged that he was physically and mentally tortured after refusing to implicate a government official serving in the state Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) in making a false statement.

During the computer search since June 30 in my premises, computer sleuths threatened me and my family members. They tortured me mentally and physically and didn’t even allow me to sleep for three days.

“They forced me to link Soumya Chourasia, deputy secretary stationed at the CMO, with my business anyway and make statements against her. But the deputy secretary of the CM has no connection with my business activities, so, why should I involve him?, asked Tiwari.

He admitted to having family relations with Chourasia and said he met her whenever he went to the CM office for “public works”.

“I talk to her on the phone occasionally. I meet her whenever I visit the CM office for public works. She is not the only officer I have on good terms with, but both under the BJP and in the incumbent government, I share a good relationship with But the IT people wanted me to be involved and so they also offered me to become chief minister by overthrowing the government, he alleged.

He claimed that IT officials told him that he had good relations with 40-45 Congress deputies and asked him to make their list, then with the support of the “vipaksh” (opposition), the government would be changed.

“They said if I involved Chourasia, I could become Eknath Shinde from Chhattisgarh,” he said.

Shinde was sworn in as CM of Maharashtra on June 30 with BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis as deputy, days after his rebellion against the Shiv Sena leadership with 39 MPs led to the collapse of the MVA government led by Uddhav Thackeray.

I am a businessman and I trust the law of this country. I will sue the income tax department for forcing me to make a false statement. I will not succumb to their pressure. Unfortunately, central agencies are being used as a tool to engineer change of government in states, he said.

He also criticized senior BJP official Raman Singh for demanding his arrest and said the raid by IT officials should not be given political color.

The IT department had recently raided a Chhattisgarh-based group engaged in coal transportation and related businesses and a senior state government official on June 30. The searches were carried out in over 30 locations in Raipur, Bhilai, Raigarh, Korba, Bilaspur and Surajpur.

The premises of Tiwari and Chourasia were covered by the raid.

After the video surfaced on social media, Congress and the BJP fired off each other.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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