Trouble has gate-crashed into the Congress camp following the ‘cashgate’ episode in Amravati. The police is likely to summon Maharashtra minister of state for finance Rajendra Mulak and quiz him over the seizure of Rs 1-crore cash from a car days before the February 16 Amravati municipal corporation elections. The car was being used by Mulak -- a trusted lieutenant of chief minister Prithviraj Chavan.
The police may also summon MLA Raosaheb Shekhawat, son of President Pratibha Patil, for interrogation in this connection.
The opposition, particularly the BJP, has pounced on the issue and has been vociferously alleging that the money was sent to be distributed among the voters "to lure them to vote for Congress in the civic elections".
The BJP president Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday said that all the concerned Congress leaders, including Mulak be booked immediately in this connection and the election commission should take a stern action against the party for using unfair practice.
However, the Congress tried to contain the damage and tried to keep its chin up. The party said that the money was sent to Shekhawat to distribute it among party candidates who are contesting the civic elections from Amravati.
State election commissioner Neela Satyanarayana had already sought a detailed report on from the divisional commissioner Ganesh Thakur and Amravati municipal commissioner Navin Sona in this regard.
Amravati police commissioner Amitesh Kumar said that the police was investigating into the matter and verifying details of banks from which the amount was withdrawn.
He said that the police have deposited the amount to the state treasury at Amravati. "After verification and investigation we will decide as to whom to hand over the cash," he said.
The Amravati city Congress chief, Vasantrao Saurkar on Tuesday approached the court for returning the money to the party as it was sent for election fund. However, the Amravati police contended that the amount could not return to the Congress as the investigation was on in this regard. In an affidavit before the court, the city police said that the money should be kept with the state treasury till the pending of the investigation.
The money -- thus claimed to be unaccounted for -- was hidden in the luggage compartment of the car which was driven by one Prakash Masram (28) and accompanied by Mulak’s personal assistant Ashish Bodhankar (34).
Initially Raosaheb Shekhawat, who manages Congress affairs in Amravati, feigned ignorance about money being sent to the party office.
"I had asked the MPCC for sending money for the party candidates as most candidates are from poor background and they need money for campaigning. Therefore, the party sent the money for the purpose," he later said as a fire-fighting measure.
Kumar said, "We are still investigating the matter. We will examine all aspects on the issue. If needed, we can summon Mulak and Shekhawat in this regard," he said.