Chhattisgarh ex-Minister accuses BJP of tarnishing the image of tribal leadership

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Former Minister Amarjeet Bhagat, currently under investigation on corruption charges, on Monday claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was attempting to tarnish the image of tribal leadership.

The senior Congress leader from the tribal belt of Sarguja recently faced Income Tax searches and was later named for the first time as an accused in a coal levy corruption case in an FIR registered last month.

Drawing parallels between the actions of investigating agencies against him and former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, Mr. Bhagat claimed that only non-BJP leaders were being targeted. In the Jharkhand episode, Mr. Soren was accused in an alleged land scam that led to his resignation and subsequent arrest.

“On the day Hemant Soren was resigning [January 31], a raid was conducted at my house. These two incidents were not mere coincidences; it is a conspiracy. There is an attempt to tarnish tribal leadership. The message being conveyed is an attempt to portray that leaders from non-BJP parties are involved in wrongdoing, whereas it is not the reality. Conspiracies are being framed against non-BJP leaders. The BJP does not want leaders from marginalised communities to take leadership roles,” said Mr. Bhagat at a press conference in Raipur.

The FIR against Mr. Bhagat claimed that he received ₹50 lakh generated as proceeds of crime in the alleged coal levy scam.

Dismissing these allegations, Mr. Bhagat alleged harassment by I-T officials. “They took all the cash and seized my bank account. Now I will have to borrow money if I have any emergency,” he said.

Claiming that he was a tribal leader who fought for tribal rights, Mr. Bhagat said his opponents should shout him dead if they could not tolerate him, instead of sending I-T officials.

He reiterated the same in subsequent media interactions, breaking down on some occasions. On the seizure made at his residence, he claimed that the money was accounted for.

CM responds to charges

Reacting sharply to Mr. Bhagat’s allegations, Chief Minister Vishnu Deo Sai said that his party had always empowered the tribals and it did not need the endorsement of a leader facing corruption allegations.

“@HemantSorenJMM Ji has insulted the tribals. BJP does not need the certificate of a leader embroiled in a scam. Keeping in mind the tribal majority, BJP created two states, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. For the welfare of tribals, a separate ministry was created at the Center and tribal chief minister was made. The illustrious Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi ji took a historic decision and made a tribal woman the President of India. We want to send the tribals to Rashtrapati Bhavan while the Soren family has filled its house by looting the tribals. Such corrupt people have no place in today’s India,” he wrote on X.

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