Who is Dhiraj Prasad Sahu, the Congress MP linked to Rs 300 crore cash haul?

The I-T raids and seizure of cash have sparked off a political war of words

Cash seized by the Income Tax department after raids against a Odisha-based distellery group and linked entities | PTI Cash seized by the Income Tax department after raids against a Odisha-based distellery group and linked entities | PTI

The seizure of unaccounted cash to the tune of more than Rs 300 crore during a series of raids by the Income Tax department at an Odisha-based distillery group and its associated entities has led to a political controversy after premises linked to Dhiraj Prasad Sahu, a Congress’s Rajya Sabha MP from Jharkhand, was also covered in the searches.

The I-T sleuths searched the corporate office of Boudh Distillery Pvt Ltd at Palasapalli in Bhubaneswar, the houses of some company officials, the company's factory and office in Boudh and the Ranisati Rice Mill.

Searches were also conducted at Sambalpur and Sundargarh in Odisha, Bokaro and Ranchi in Jharkhand and Kolkata.

Huge stacks of cash—mostly denominations of Rs 500, Rs 200 and Rs 100—were found stashed in at least nine almirahs during the IT raids.

The seized amount was so huge that the money counting machines of the I-T officials got jammed at times. As per reports, the seized notes were taken to bank in 157 bags. The raids continue even today.

Two brothers—Sanjay and Deepak—who led the company business are absconding, reports said.

Links to Dhiraj Sahu

The Sahu family and Boudh Distillery Pvt Ltd are popular names in Odisha's excise circle. It is reported that they have been in the business for the last forty years.

They mostly deal with country liquor and are known for keeping controversies away. The family’s political involvement in Bihar and Jharkhand, too, had courted any controversy so far. But, perhaps for the first time, they are in the news for the wrong reasons, after the Income Tax raids.

The Sahus’ country liquor business are focused in three western districts of Boudh, Bolangir and Sambalpur, besides southern district of Raygada. They also run some Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) shops.

One of the places where the I-T sleuths conducted searches was the Bolangir office of Baldev Sahu Infra Pvt Ltd, a group company of Boudh Distillery. According to reports, Baldev Sahu Infra Pvt Ltd is linked to Dhiraj Sahu.

Dhiraj is the son of Baldev Sahu and brother of former Ranchi MP late Shibprasad Sahu. The businessman cum politician has been a member of Rajya Sabha on a Congress ticket since 2010.

Dhiraj had earlier unsuccessfully contested Lok Sabha elections twice from Chatra of Jharkhand.

Political war of words

Unsurprisingly, the big cash haul has led to a political blame game. The BJP has targeted both the ruling BJD in Odisha and the Congress over the issue.

BJP spokesperson Manoj Mohapatra has demanded a CBI inquiry, saying the money seized might have been meant for political use by the BJD. He wondered how the Sahus with an annual turnover of Rs 120 crore could keep Rs 500 crore in cash.

BJD spokesperson Ipsita Sahu said while the BJP leaders at the Centre and in Jharkhand were pinning the blame on the Congress party, the Odisha BJP leaders were speaking contradictory and ridiculous things.

The Congress is a poor third in Odisha Assembly, but the controversy is unlikely to die down any time soon as the assembly elections and Lok Sabha polls are just a few months away.


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