The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday carried out searches in 10 States against senior government officials who face corruption charges in cases registered by various enforcement agencies, including one related to the alleged ‘memorial’ scam during the Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh. The development comes days after the agency cracked down on shell companies across 16 States as part of the Central government’s drive against black money.On Thursday, the searches were conducted in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal and Goa, among other States. The Directorate has already registered money laundering cases against the accused persons. One case is linked to some Uttar Pradesh government officials in the alleged ‘memorial’ scam, which caused a loss of ₹ 1,400 crore to the exchequer. “Searches have also been conducted against the then Director General (Health), project engineers and the then Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam director in the National Rural Health Scheme case, in which government servants and ministers had allegedly misappropriated funds. The agency has so far attached properties worth over ₹ 250 crore in the case,” said an official.Another case is against an IAS officer in West Bengal, who had allegedly released funds to the tune of ₹ 60 crore by manipulating tender documents in collusion with some engineers. In Tamil Nadu, searches were carried out against bank officials who had allegedly sanctioned loans for extended credit facilities to private parties without the necessary papers or collaterals.
The bypoll for the Araria Lok Sabha seat will see a keen contest between the National Democratic Alliance and “Mahagathbandhan” (Grand Alliance) candidates.Read more UpdatesFIR filed against Bihar BJP PresidentAn FIR has been lodged again Bihar BJP President Nityanand Rai for making provocative speech against RJD candidate Sarfaraz Alam while campaigning at Narpatganj in Araria, Bihar.43% turnout in Gorakhpur; 37.39% in PhulpurThe Lok Sabha constituency of Gorakhpur witnessed 43% polling while Phulpur saw a turnout of 37.39% till 5 p.m. today, Election Commission sources said. This implies that the polling percentage dropped by 11.67% and 12.81% in the two aforementioned constituencies.The voting for the bye-elections to the two Lok Sabha seats began on a dull note but picked up momentum in the day amid tight security.The bypolls were necessitated after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya vacated the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats respectively following their election to the state legislative council.BJP getting widespread support from the people: AdityanathUttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath today said the BJP was getting widespread support from the people.Speaking to reporters after casting his vote in the Gorakpur bypolls, the priest-turned-politician noted that the public believes in the mantra of development and governance given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Attacking the opposition BSP and SP, Adityanath said, “SP and BSP are indulging in negative politics, politics of bargaining and politics of opportunism. The state has suffered the negative consequences (of SP and BSP). And in order to ensure that in future such situations do not arise, efforts have to made to shun politics of casteism and dynastic politics, and focus on development and administration.”Voting slowly gathers pace in UPThe voter turnout in UP increased to 20% by noon, according to election office sources.After casting his vote in Gorakhpur, UP CM Yogi Adityanath was bullish about the BJP’s chances. “The people know that development was the only panacea,” he told reporters.Attacking the BSP and the SP, he said, “These parties are indulging in negative politics, politics of bargaining and politics of opportunism. The State has suffered the negative consequences (of SP and BSP).“And in order to ensure that in future such situations do not arise, efforts have to be made to shun politics of casteism and dynastic politics, and focus on development and administration,” he said.When asked to comment on the SP and BSP entering an electoral understanding, he said, “This will have no effect. I had wanted that in this bye-election if the SP, BSP and Congress had fought together, then results would have been much better (for us).”Maurya confidentU.P. Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said the 2014 Lok Sabha record would be repeated by the BJP.“I am confident that on March 14, the record which was made in Phulpur in 2014 (Lok Sabha general elections) will be repeated, and our candidate Kaushalendra Patel will emerge victorious,” he told reporters after casting his vote for Phulpur parliamentary constituency along with his family members.On being asked about the BJP’s expansion plans in the State in view of the electoral understanding between SP and BSP, Mr. Maurya said, “We have already expanded enough, and in future if any political party wants to join us, it will be definitely deliberated upon.“But, today from UP’s point of view, poll alliance of the BJP, Apna Dal (Sonelal) and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) exists. Apart from this, we do not have any other alliance. And, banking on this alliance, we will win 80 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in the State,” he said.Taking a jibe at the SP-BSP tie-up, the Minister said, “Their (SP-BSP) votes will be transferred only when they have enough votes. The votes (of the people) are with us. But, they have only leaders who make statements. The voters of Mayawatiji have deserted the BSP and have reposed their faith in Modiji, Yogi and BJP. We are winning both the Lok Sabha seats, and with wider margin“.12% voting in BiharAt 10 a.m on Sunday, the voter turnout in Bihar for one Lok Sabha and two Assembly seats was around 12%.Adityanath casts voteThe UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has cast his vote. Mr. Adityanath had to vacate his Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat.In Araria, the poll percentage till 9 a.m was about 8 percent. No report of any untoward incident from anywhere in the constituency. In UP, around the same time, the percentage was 5.80%. PreviewOn Sunday, Lok Sabha bypolls will be held in the States of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The prestige of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is at stake as Gorakhpur and Phulpur go to vote.In Bihar, polling is on for bypolls to the Araria parliamentary seat and two assembly seats in Jehanabad and Bhabua.The bypolls were necessitated after UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya vacated the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats respectively, following their election to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council.While the BJP, which rules UP with an overwhelming majority, has all to lose, the stakes are also high for the Opposition after BSP chief Mayawati went out of character and announced support to the Samajwadi Party (SP). The compatibility of the SP and BSP working together will be assessed on March 14, when results are declared.Read more Inputs from Omar Rashid, Rajeev Bhatt, Amarnath Tewary, PTI