‘Communication gap’ led to Rs.1 cr seizure, says Patil’s son (Lead)

February 21st, 2012 - 9:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha Patil Amravati (Maharashtra), Feb 21 (IANS) An embarrassed Congress legislator and President Pratibha Patil’s son Raosaheb Shekhawat Tuesday said a “communication gap” resulted in Rs.1 crore cash being seized by Maharashtra Police only days before the polls to major municipal corporations in the state.

“There was some communication gap as the state Congress could not inform when and how the money was being sent. I learnt (of it) only after the police seized the vehicle,” Shekhawat told media persons. seeking to downplay the incident after he was questioned by top Amravati district police officials.

Shekhawat said that after the seizure, he got a call from one of the arrested persons who was entrusted with bringing the cash.

“I immediately contacted the MPCC (Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee) office in Mumbai, which quickly faxed the detailed statements of the cash to the police,” he said.

Shekhawat reiterated that the money was meant for disbursal among 87 financially weak Congress candidates in the Amravati Municipal Corporation elections, held Feb. 16.

The remaining Rs.13 lakh was intended for the expenses of the Amravati District Congress during the elections, he added.

The fund was sent by the MPCC through general secretary and lawyer Ganesh Patil, who was also present at Tuesday’s questioning by Amravati Police Commissioner Amitesh Kumar.

Shekhawat’s lawyer W. Ahmed Mirza added that the party officials had submitted original papers to the police for verification of the source and the sequence of events leading to the seizure.

The statement was recorded following a probe ordered by State Election Commissioner Neela Satyanarayan last week. She sought a report from District Collector Rahul Mahiwal and subsequent directions by a local court.

Earlier Tuesday, Kumar said that Shekhawat and others had been called for investigations into the matter.

“We have sought his stand on the issue and further investigations are in progress,” the Amravati police commissioner told IANS soon after the questioning got over.

However, state minister Rajendra Mulak, who also was asked to be present for questioning, could not make it and he will come next week, Kumar said.

He said the police would verify and investigate in depth the source and intended beneficiaries of the money recovered in night raid. Every angle to the case would be cross-checked, he added.

On Feb 11, a Ford vehicle, said to belong to businessman S.N. Agarwal of Nagpur and carrying Rs.1 crore cash in bundles of Rs.500 and Rs.100 denominations, was intercepted by the local police in the night.

While the source of the cash consignment was not clear, police arrested two Nagpur residents who were travelling by the car and carrying the bundles of money.

The state election commissioner directed the district collectorate to file a report and notices were issued to Shekhawat and other Congress leaders to present themselves for questioning Tuesday.

Rushing to Shekhawat’s rescue, state Congress president Manikrao Thakre contended that it was party fund, meant to be distributed among its candidates contesting the civic elections.

“We wanted to distribute Rs.100,000 each to the financially weak candidates for election expenses,” Thakre said soon after the cash was seized by police.

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