State election commissioner Neela Satyanarayan has sought a report on the seizure of Rs1 crore from an Amravati-bound vehicle — in which the name of president Pratibha Patil’s son, Rajendra Shekhawat has cropped up — from divisional commissioner Ganesh Thakur and Amravati municipal commissioner Navin Sona, by Monday.
Shekhawat, known as Raosaheb, is an influential Congress MLA from Amravati city, where the municipal corporation elections will be held on February 16. The car from which the amount was seized on Sunday was being used by the minister of state for finance, Rajendra Mulak, a confidante of chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. The money was stashed in the SUV driven by Prakash Masram, who was accompanied by Ashish Bodhankar, Mulak’s personal assistant. The opposition has alleged that the money was being brought to Amravati to distribute it among the voters.
After feigning ignorance initially, Shekhawat later said: “I had asked the MPCC for money for campaigning for candidates, most of whom are from poor background.” Mulak, too, said that the money was from the party’s fund.
In a fire-fighting mode, state Congress general secretary, Ganesh Patil, faxed a letter to Shekhawat and the Amravati police commissionerate, stating that the money was part of the party fund that Mulak had sent to the Amravati Congress Committee for its candidates.
Amitesh Kumar, Amravati police commissioner, said: “We got a fax message from MPCC stating that the money was from the party fund. We have informed the SEC and the I-T department about it. Masram and Bodhankar were arrested as they could not give satisfactory answers on the source of the money.” The duo was released on bail on Monday. Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar (NCP) alleged that the money was brought to lure the voters and the police commissioner, too, was aware of it. State BJP chief Sudhir Munganttiwar urged the EC to act against the party and the minister concerned.