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Meghalaya voters get cheques of Rs 5,000 ahead of assembly polls, BJP cries foul

Many voters in Meghalaya rushed to banks to encash cheques signed by block development officers. The BJP said the Congress was trying to woo voters with money, while the ruling party said the cheques were distributed as part of ongoing schemes for women’s empowerment

india Updated: Jan 12, 2018 17:44 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Meghalaya,Meghalaya assembly election,Meghalaya assembly polls
The Congress government of CM Mukul Sangma has been accused of giving out money to voters ahead of the assembly polls in Meghalaya. (HT file photo)

Voters in several assembly constituencies represented by the ruling Congress in Meghalaya were surprised when many of them got cheques worth Rs 5,000 ahead of the next month’s elections in the state, prompting the opposition to accuse the Mukul Sangma government of wooing people with money.

Many ‘luck voters’, most of them women, from Mylliem, Mawphlang and Sohiong in East Khasi Hills district rushed to the Upper Shillong branch of Bank of Baroda on Thursday to encash the cheques signed by their local block development officers (BDO).

“I was surprised to see a long queue of women who got the cheques at the bank. Some of them were not even aware why they got it,” Agnes Kharshiing, president of local NGO Civil Society Women’s Organization (CSWO), said.

The upcoming elections are expected to witness an intense battle between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is attempting to come to power in the Christian-majority state. The Election Commission is likely to announce poll dates for Meghalaya, and also for Tripura and Nagaland, within the next few days.

“This is highly improper. The Congress did nothing for Meghalaya in the past five years. Now they are trying to woo voters with money. People are not fools,” Meghalaya BJP chief Shibun Lyngdoh said.

The saffron party is also contemplating to approach the poll panel and complain about the issue.

The Congress has denied any wrongdoing and said that the cheques were distributed as part of ongoing schemes for women’s empowerment.

“Such cheques are distributed every year. In my constituency, 2,000 women have been given sums under the women economic empowerment scheme,” Congress MLA from Mawphlang, Keneddy Cornelius Khriem, said.

East Khasi Hills district deputy commissioner PS Dkhar said the money has been given to beneficiaries as per rules and there’s nothing wrong as “election dates have not yet been announced”.

But questions are being raised on how the beneficiaries are chosen.

“We have heard the only criterion was that beneficiaries should have voter ID cards. In some families, three to four people got the cheques. We are filing an RTI query on how these cheques were distributed,” CSWO’s Kharsiing said.

First Published: Jan 12, 2018 17:43 IST