Madhya Pradesh police investigating a high-profile alleged blackmail and extortion racket in the state must now sift through more than 200 phone numbers found in mobile phones recovered from the gang leader and other members. Sources close to the investigation told NDTV that the racket, described as a 'honey-trap', targeted only wealthy individuals and focused on politicians and bureaucrats, leading to speculation it was part of a plot to undermine the Congress-led government in the state.
"You can very well understand what conspiracy could have been behind such a development. Since the Congress returned to power, the BJP has been trying to destabilise the government," Law Minister PC Sharma alleged, adding, "But with Kamal Nath leading the government their plans will soon be exposed through big revelations by the police".
Five women, including the wife of a former Congress information-technology cell official, and a man had been arrested on Wednesday night. The racket was allegedly operated by Shweta Jain, a 48-year-old woman who lived in a house owned by BJP MLA Brijendra Pratap Singh.
Mobile phone contacts found after police raided the women's homes suggest the racket may not have been limited to Madhya Pradesh.
Sources say the ringleader, in addition to being linked to politicians in the state, was also close to an influential political leader in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra. She is believed to have established links with the politician with the help of an ex-Madhya Pradesh minister.
She also ran a factory in Bhopal that used the influence of the politician to get contracts to supply central PSUs.
Two other women arrested in connection with the case also managed to get works from different government departments in Madhya Pradesh, particularly for those related to skill development and training.
BJP leader Gopal Bhargava, who is Leader of Opposition in the assembly, has said that allegations levelled by Congress leaders and ministers are baseless.
"Can any government fall to just 'honey-trap'? If the present government can fall due to alleged 'honey-traps' then you can imagine how fragile this government is," he said.
One of the five women arrested hails from Sagar district in the state and was previously associated with the youth wing of the BJP; her husband was part of the ABVP, which is the student-wing of the RSS.
In her late 40s, she is believed to have contacts with senior BJP leaders in the state. She had previously tried to get a ticket for the 2013 assembly elections and was also in the race for a BJP ticket to mayoral elections.
Meanwhile, in a setback of sorts, an Indore court has denied police remand of three of the five arrested women, including the alleged mastermind.
Get Breaking news, live coverage, and Latest News from India and around the world on NDTV.com. Catch all the Live TV action on NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.