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ED defends searches on persons linked to Vadra



New Delhi, Dec 8 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday denied that it searched the prermises of persons linked to Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law Robert Vadra without an FIR or search warrant, saying its action was within “prescribed procedure”.

An ED statement said: “ED conducted Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) investigations in certain cases relating to ownership of undisclosed assets abroad.

“And as part of these investigations, the ED carried out search operations on December 7 at a number of premises in Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru by issue of search warrants under Section 17 of PMLA.

“These searches have been carried out as per the prescribed procedure,” it added.

The statement said that documents and digital evidence were seized during the searches and were being examined.

The ED searched several places in Delhi and questioned four persons, including a Congress activist and two employees of Vadra, in connection with unspecified defence deals.

Earlier in the day, an ED team raided the residence of the Congress worker and Vadra’s close aide Jagdish Sharma. Sharma was questioned and let off.

The ED has also questioned Manoj Arora, Ramesh Sharma and another person whose identity has not been not disclosed.

The ED on Friday also questioned three persons and raided their houses in Delhi, Noida and Bengaluru.

While being taken by the ED officials, Jagdish Sharma told reporters on Saturday: “Robert Vadra is being framed. The Modi government wants to trap him. Searches are on at my residence. What will they get when there is nothing? They are taking me to ED office for questioning.”

The Congress termed the ED action as “blind vendetta” by the government to score political points.

According to the ED, the suspects are linked to the firms of Vadra and are linked to alleged commissions received by some suspects in defence deals. The agency refused to share details of the defence deals.

Vadra had earlier this week alleged that the corruption probe against him was the result of a political witch-hunt aimed at “besmirching his dignity and reputation”.


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Declaration of poll schedule to expedite candidate selection, alliances



New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) With the Election Commission announcing the Lok Sabha poll schedule on Sunday, political parties are expected to expedite the process of candidate selection as also that of forming alliances in the next few days.

While the Congress has come with its first list of 15 candidates that includes names of party chief Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party is yet to come up with its first list, which is expected this week.

The opposition parties in Bihar have not yet announced their grand alliance in the state. There has also been no formal announcement of a tie-up in Jammu and Kashmir as also in West Bengal.

In Delhi, though the ruling Aam Aadmi Party has declared its candidates on most of the seats and Congress has declared its intentions to fight separately, there is still speculation of the possibility of the two parties coming together.

The notification for the first phase of Lok Sabha polls will be made on March 18 and the last date of filing nominations is March 25. The polling of the first phase for 91 seats across 20 states will be held on April 11, almost a month from now.

The political parties are expected to draw out a detailed schedule of campaigning by their top leaders over the next few days as also give final touches to their manifestos.


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