Ranchi: While no official statement has been issued by the Enforcement Directorate officials on the raids conducted at the premises of Indian Administrative Service officer and mining secretary Pooja Singhal Purwar even after two days, political attacks and counter attacks have begun in Jharkhand.
As soon as the raids began on Pooja Singhal’s aides in Jharkhand, Bharatiya Janata Party leaders were seen attacking the Hemant Soren government. Member of Parliament from Godda, Nishikant Dubey led it by tweeting about the raid at 7.44 am on May 6. While chief minister Hemant Soren, when asked about the raid, claimed he is not afraid of such raids.
On Saturday, a day after recovering a huge amount of cash, around 20 crores, from the premises of Singhal’s Chartered Accountant Suman Kumar, both BJP and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leaders held a press conference in the state capital.
Who is Pooja Singhal?
The 2000 batch IAS officer before serving as a secretary of the mining department of Jharkhand and managing director of Jharkhand State Mineral Development Corporation Limited was posted as deputy commissioner in different districts of Jharkhand including Chatra, Khunti and Palamu. She was also a sub-divisional magistrate in Hazaribagh in her early career.
After the ED raids, three times CPIML legislator Vinod Singh in his Facebook post claimed that he had been raising questions on her alleged corruption in Chatra, Khunti and Palamu districts inside the assembly since 2011. Most of the corruption charges against her were related to the rural job scheme—MNREGA. He mentioned that initially no action was taken on his demand, but later an inquiry was set up. The report was submitted by another IAS Nitin Kulkarni. The MLA had expressed satisfaction with it.
“But again no action was taken on the report, and when we made further demands, then chief minister Raghubar Das set up another committee in 2017 and gave a clean chit to Pooja Singhal,” Vinod Singh wrote in his post.
Saryu Roy, a former BJP leader, who has been raising corruption cases during the Raghubar Das government also tweeted that there should be an investigation on Momentum Jharkhand, an investors event along with MNREGA. He even tagged CM Soren and demanded that the state anti-corruption bureau should do its duty too.
Silence of Raghubar Das
Former chief minister Das, who has been accused of shielding Singhal and organizing Momentum Jharkhand, is in silent mode on the issue.
Since the raids began, the BJP national vice-president retweeted the tweets of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and the party’s National President JP Nadda, but did not tweet a single thing about the raids at the IAS officer’s premises.
Is BJP being defensive?
Not only former chief minister Das is maintaining silence but other BJP leaders, who were in a hurry to take political advantage of the raids, seem to have gone on at a back foot. BJP’s state president Deepak Prakash conducted a PC to further attack Hemant Soren’s government, seeking investigation into the entire tenure of the IAS officer, but when questioned about her being given a clean chit in two cases by Raghubar Das led BJP government in 2017, Prakash replied that the clean chit should also be investigated.
JMM, the party, which was facing attacks from BJP leaders, also held a press conference and demanded an investigation on the trio– Raghubar Das, Babulal Marandi and former chief secretary Rajbala Verma.
“BJP state president Deepak Prakash has accepted that there should be an investigation on the clean chit given to Pooja Singhal by Raghubar Das government. But he has to make it clear, who is correct, the raids by ED or the clean chit given by Raghubar Das,” said JMM MLA Sudivya Sonu, while showing 2017’s clean chit letter given to Pooja Singhal.
Replying to a question, why did JMM make Pooja Singhal mining secretary? Sonu answered, “Had Raghubar Das (BJP) government taken action against Pooja Singhal, we would not have given her any department to look after. But, we lack IAS and IPS officers, so we have to take work from existing officials.”
While JMM’s senior leader Supriyo Bhattacharya alleged, “The clean chit was given by Raghubar Das and then Chief Secretary Rajbala Verma, so both should be investigated. Also, one of the corruption charges against Pooja Singha was leveled by the JVM party. Since Babulal Marandi has traded it and JVM has merged with BJP, Babulal should also be investigated in this case.”
Significantly, Suman Kumar, the CA of Pooja Singhal who has been arrested by ED on money laundering charges, alleged before media persons that ED officials are pressurizing him to name CM Hemant Soren, his secretary Vinay Choubey and Pooja Singhal in the money laundering case.