Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala on Wednesday alleged that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in Arunachal Pradesh have been involved in a "cash for vote" scam amounting to Rs 180 lakh just a night prior to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally in Arunachal's Pasighat.
In a press conference here, Surjewala alleged, "Unaccounted cash amounting to Rs 180 lakh was found during a raid at midnight on the convoy of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein and BJP Arunachal President Tapir Gao."
Surjewala also said that two videos of the raids have emerged on social media which prove the truth behind the incident. He said, "The raids were conducted in the presence of Election Commission's Expenditure Officer Samrita Kaur Gill (IRS). The cash was being reportedly transported in certain vehicles parked at the Siang Guest House in Pasighat."
Surjewala further said, "Five vehicles were searched in the presence of the complainants who belonged to the Youth Congress. Rs 1.80 crore were recovered in a denomination of Rs 500 each. According to the Deputy Commissioner (DC) and Superintendent of Police (SP) Pasighat, the recovery of cash was intimated to Priya Ranjan, who is the Income Tax officer stationed at Pasighat for the elections."
Attacking Prime Minister Modi over this incident, Surjewala said, "Was this cash reportedly transferred for Prime Minister's rally in Pasighat on Wednesday? Is it not a clear cut case of 'Chowkidar' becoming 'Chor' about which Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been talking in the past?"
He questioned further, "Did the Prime Minister know about these stacks of cash being transferred? If yes, then an FIR should be immediately filed against the Prime Minister and other BJP leaders involved in the incident."
Explaining further on what grounds a case should be registered against the Prime Minister and other BJP leaders involved in the alleged scam, Surjewala said, "The hoarding of cash during an election amounts to "corrupt practice" and it is a serious violation of law under Section 123(1) of the Representation of the People Act 1951 and Section 171B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and is a solid ground for termination of candidature of the accused. Moreover, a case can be registered against the Prime Minister if it was found that he was aware of the money being hoarded."
Hitting out at BJP leaders in Arunachal Pradesh, Surjewala said, "Tapir Gao's candidature from West Arunachal Pradesh should be immediately terminated." "Arunachal Pradesh CM Pema Khandu and Deputy CM Chowna Mein should resign following this sensational 'Cash for Vote' scandal," he added.
However, Pema Khandu rubbished the allegations and said 'Cash for Vote' is a policy of the Congress party, and not the BJP.
"It's absolutely wrong. 'Cash for Vote' is rather practiced by Congress party. Investigation under Election Commission will reveal all the details," he told ANI.
Meanwhile, BJP state president Tapir Gao said neither he nor the chief minister have anything to do with the money that was recovered.
"That money is BJP candidate Dangi Perme and Ex-MLA's personal money found in their personal car. That has nothing to do with me or Pema Khandu. This is not BJP's money," he stated.
Voting for the 60 assembly seats of Arunachal Pradesh will take place on April 11 along with the Lok Sabha polls.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)