CBI takes up J'khand RS poll fiasco, launches probe

A day after registering the first information report (FIR) in connection with alleged horse-trading during the countermanded Rajya Sabha (RS) poll, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sleuths on Friday visited the State assembly and collected documents pertaining to the elections.

In the FIR lodged with the CBI headquarter, three persons including Saumitra Sah, relative of one of the independent candidates RK Agrawal, his manager Sudhanshu Tripathi and drive of the vehicle in which Rs 2.15 crore cash was recovered have been named as accused.

A senior officer of the CBI, who is monitoring the case, confided to the HT from Patna that the investigating agency had lodged the FIR on the basis of the one registered with the Namkom police station. “More names would be included in course of investigation, which has started with collection of important documents related to the RS poll,” he said.

The animal husbandry department unit of the CBI, which was originally set up to inquire into the multi-crore fodder scam that broke up during the erstwhile unified Bihar, has taken up the investigation into the RS fiasco case, which was referred to it by the Election Commission of India on the instruction of Jharkhand High Court.

Soon after the police recovered huge cash from the vehicles of Agrawal’s relative on the polling day March 30, the ECI asked for rescinding the RS in the apprehension that money was being used to influence the election process. Congress candidate Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu went to the Jharkhand High Court against the ECI decision to countermand the poll, which ultimately paved the way for a CBI probe into the issue.

Even as the CBI has taken up the matter related to suspected role of money in the polls, officials said the Income Tax Department would continue with its investigation within its own ambit to follow the trail of cash purportedly taken from different banks from Jharkhand and neighbouring states by the candidates in the fray.

Sources in the CBI said the investigating officials visited the assembly, the venue of the poll, as part of the initial exercise. “They would also contact the officials of the Ranchi police and those of the Income Tax to know the status of their investigation into the case,” they said.

The CBI officials, sources said, are also likely to keep a watch over the rescheduled RS polls, slated for May 3, the nomination for which has already started. The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Bharatiya Janata Party have already announced their candidates, while the Congress and the JVM(P) are taking its time to list their nominees.


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