The son of former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi was held with Rs 4.65 lakh in cash on Sunday, police officials said, turning the spotlight on the possible use of money to lure voters in the poll-bound state.
The seizure came in the midst of tense negotiations by Manjhi, who leads the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), with its ally BJP on a seat-sharing formula for the five-phase assembly polls in October.
Police said Manjhi’s son Pravin Kumar Suman was held at Makhdumpur in Jehanabad, around 60 km south of Patna, during a routine checking. Security measures have been intensified after the Election Commission’s model code of conduct came into force.
Makhdumpur is the assembly constituency of Jitan Ram Manjhi, once a close confidante of chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Lakshman Prasad, in-charge of Makhdumpur police station, said that the money was found in a brief case kept in the dickey of the Volkswagen Vento car which Pravin was himself driving.
“We have brought him to Makhdumpur police station. He has not been able to tell anything about the source of money. He is just saying that Papa gave him the money,” he added.
However, ANI quoted Pravin as saying that he was carrying the money for payments for his under-construction house at Hanuman Nagar in Patna.
HAM spokesperson Danish Rizwan, on the other hand, said the money was meant for payment to contractors working at Pravin’s under-construction house at Jehanabad.
“Pravin has shown papers concerning it. I don’t think there is much in it and he will be released soon,” Rizwan said.
Jehanabad superintendent of police Aditya Kumar said a car was intercepted near Dharnai village, close to Makhdumpur, in a random search and it was later found out that the former chief minister’s son was in it.
“The police have recovered Rs 4.65 lakh. In these times, one cannot move with such huge cash,” he said.
The SP said the sub-divisional police officer has been asked to investigate the source of the cash.
“We have also informed the income tax department regarding it and due process will follow,” he added.
(Our first report carried the name of Manjhi's son wrongly. His correct name is Pravin Kumar Suman.)