BJP prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi’s much-hyped first public appearance in Bihar, after his party’s split with the JD(U) last June, has kicked off a major controversy.
A sugar mill owner has registered an FIR against Rama Devi, sitting BJP MP from Sheohar in north Bihar, accusing her of demanding Rs. 5 lakh as ‘donation’ for Modi’s proposed ‘hunkar rally’ in Patna on October 27.
Devi has, however, refuted the allegation. She, too, has registered an FIR against the mill owner, claiming he had misbehaved with her and threatened her. A senior BJP leader in Patna declined comment on the matter.
The rally will bring Modi to the home turf of the BJP’s former ally and chief minister Nitish Kumar, who cut off ties with the saffron party over the Gujarat strongman’s projection as the prime ministerial candidate.
Confirming both the parties had lodged FIRs against each other, Sitamarhi superintendent of police (SP) PK Sinha said call details of the two were being procured to verify their respective claims.
“Only after ascertaining the facts of the matter will we take action, as permitted by law, against the guilty party”, the SP told HT.
In his FIR lodged at Riga police station of north Bihar’s Sitamarhi district, adjacent to Sheohar, Riga sugar mill chairman Omprakash Dhanuka has charged the MP of calling him up on three consecutive days for this purpose.
“She was demanding Rs. 5 lakh to make arrangements for rally participants. But I politely refused, saying I am not in a position to pay such a huge amount,” Dhanuka said in his complaint.
The sugar mill owner said Rama Devi had first asked him to pay Rs. 10 lakh as donation for Modi’s rally but subsequently reduced the demand to Rs. 5 lakh.
“She asked me repeatedly to pay this sum or be ready to face consequences. She made her last call at 11 am on October 8. Once again, I turned down her request saying that it was not possible for me to pay this money," he said.
Dhanuka said he registered an FIR against the MP only after learning she had lodged one against him. “I urge the police to verify mobile call details to find out who called whom,” he said on Thursday.
Devi held a press conference at Motihari (East Champaran) on Thursday to question Dhanuka’s claim. “I had called him to discuss cane growers’ problems. But he used foul language and threatened me,” she told HT.
This is not the first time that a politician has been accused of demanding money for making rally arrangements.
Earlier, an official of a technical institute, SL Rai, had lodged an FIR against former JD (U) MLA Vijay Kumar Shukla alias Munna Shukla, alleging he had demanded Rs. 7 crore to make arrangements for the party’s ‘adhikar rally’ in Patna last November.