Ranchi: Madhu Koda became the first ever independent Chief Minister of an Indian state in 2006. Now, the former Jharkhand chief minister and current MP from Chaibasa in Jharkhand, has another first to his name -- he is the first Chief Minister to be chargesheeted by the Enforcement Directorate, with the help of the CBI, for money laundering.
Also in the dock are Koda's Cabinet collegues Kamlesh Singh, Bhanu Pratap Shahi and Bandhu Tirkey, and five others. They are accused of laundering money to the tune of Rs 4,000 crore, almost half of Jharkhand's annual budget, during his tenure as Chief Minister from September 2006 till August 2008.
Madhu Koda has bought mines in Indonesia , Dubai and Liberia. Investigation is on, if charges are proved there is provision of three to seven years jail and his all property will be auctioned," said S S Das, special prosecutor, CBI.
But Koda denies the charges against him.
"I totally deny it, I have no investment whatsoever in any firm, foreign or Indian. I made a mark as an independent, but now people see me as a threat; that's why they are out to destroy me," he said.
But that hasn't stopped the BJP from declaring an all-out war on the Congress, accusing it of supporting the Koda government despite knowing about the money laundering.
Jharkhand will see an assembly election in the next few months and for the BJP, these allegations are a perfect recipe to target the Congress ahead of the elections.
"Congress is responsible for it. Koda was made the Chief Minister with Congress support," said Arjun Munda , BJP MP and ex-chief minister of Jharkhand.
Ahead of the Assembly elections, it might help the Congress to dump Koda at this stage, to project a clean image. But caught in between are the people of the state, which has among the lowest human development indices in the country. They will be hoping that if found guilty, Koda and his associates will be punished for reducing Jharkhand to a 'failed state'.