The Congress party has alleged that Rs 1.80 crore recovered in a raid carried out by the Election Commission’s expenditure monitoring officials late Tuesday night on the convoy of Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu was meant to bribe voters at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Pasighat rally on Wednesday.
Congress media cell chief Randeep Singh Surjewala also released two videos of the purported raid which show a team of EC officials, led by Samrita Kaur Gill, recovering wads of Rs 500 notes, totalling to Rs 1.80 crore, from a car that was allegedly part of Khandu’s cavalcade. The vehicle from which the cash was recovered was a Ford Endeavour, Number AR01K0009 and is registered in the name of Deputy Secretary, Transport, the Congress party has alleged.
Pasighat deputy commissioner Kinny Singh is also seen in the video, and an officer, part of the raiding party, can be heard saying that the matter has to be reported to the Income Tax department. Surjewala said that Priya Ranjan, Income Tax Officer stationed in Pasighat for the elections has been informed of the raid.
The sensational allegations by the Congress party were made while Prime Minister Modi was addressing a rally in Pasighat, situated in Arunachal’s East Siang district.
Terming the development as a “black day in democracy” and reiterating his party’s “Ek Hi Chowkidar Chor Hai” jibe at Modi, Surjewala alleged that the raid exposed a cash-for-votes scandal in Arunachal and demanded Khandu’s immediate resignation.
Surjewala said the cash was recovered following a tip-off by members of the Youth Congress to the EC team and that a total of five vehicles “part of the convoy of Arunachal chief minister Pema Khandu” were searched at the Siang guest house in Pasighat.
Citing various provisions under the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and the Indian Penal Code, Surjewala demanded that a case should be registered immediately against the Prime Minister, Khandu, Arunachal Pradesh deputy chief minister Chowna Mein and state BJP president Tapir Gao, who is also the saffron party’s candidate from the East Arunachal Lok Sabha constituency in the upcoming polls.
The Congress has also demanded that the Election Commission immediately cancel Tapir Gao’s candidature for the polls, alleging that the BJP leader had earlier been caught with unaccounted cash during the Manipur assembly elections also.
Arunachal Pradesh’s chief electoral officer, Kaling Tayeng has confirmed to the media that cash amounting to Rs 1.80 crore was indeed recovered from “some vehicles” on Tuesday night but said a detailed report on the incident was awaited. “It is true that a cash amount of Rs 1.8 crore was recovered on Tuesday night from some vehicles. We don’t have the exact details yet. Since the Deputy Commissioner and police superintendent of East Siang district are busy with the Prime Minister’s rally in Pasighat they have not sent a report yet about the recovery. We would be able to get a clearer picture once the report is available by late afternoon,” local media has quoted Tayeng as saying.