Rs.2.4 mn found with Congress leaders in Meghalaya

February 25th, 2008 - 11:58 am ICT by admin  


Shillong, Feb 25 (IANS) The ruling Congress party in Meghalaya is in the eye of a storm ahead of assembly elections after Election Commission (EC) officials found a whopping Rs.2.4 million in a hotel room. Senior Congress leader Margaret Alva was staying in the same hotel and was in the room when EC officials searched it. The EC observers, who carried out their search Sunday, did not seize the money.

“The poll team went to the hotel room of Pravin Davar, a secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC), and wanted to know how much cash he had with him. The election officials went to investigate following a complaint lodged that the Congress leaders were carrying a huge amount of cash,” a police official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

When the poll team searched Davar’s room, AICC general secretary and in-charge of party affairs in Meghalaya, Margaret Alva, was also present along with another AICC official.

“The three were questioned about the money and the team later left the hotel without seizing the amount,” the official said.

The Congress leaders admitted they were carrying Rs.2.38 million in cash, meant for distribution among four candidates contesting the polls with Rs.500,000 each and the remaining amount for party expenses, including visits by party leaders for the campaign. A candidate is allowed to spend a maximum of Rs.500,000 each in Meghalaya under the model code of conduct for the poll.

Alva later told journalists that it was an attempt by the opposition to defame the Congress party and denied charges of trying to misuse the money.

“The opposition parties are increasingly getting frustrated over the growing support that the Congress party was getting in the run up to the polls and hence all these things happening,” Alva said late Sunday.

Election Commission officials refused to comment on the issue.

Opposition parties have made this an issue already with leaders planning to move the Election Commission alleging the Congress party was trying to lure voters with money.

“Congress is known to use money power in elections and this instance of their top leaders carrying a huge amount of cash vindicates our apprehension. We shall lodge a formal complaint with the Election Commission about the matter,” said Kiren Rijiju, a Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Arunachal Pradesh who is campaigning for the party in Meghalaya.

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