The Election Commission of India late on Friday night recommended to the President to countermand the Rajya Sabha polls in Jharkhand in the wake of allegations of horse trading and seizure of over Rs 2.15 crore from a candidate’s brother. It said the election process there “has been seriously vitiated”.
“The commission is satisfied that the current election process for the Rajya Sabha election in Jharkhand has been seriously vitiated and cannot be permitted to proceed,” the three-member EC headed by Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi said in a 12-page order. “Accordingly, the Commission hereby recommends under Article 324 of the Constitution, read with Section 21 of the General Clauses Act, 1897, to the President that she may be pleased to rescind the notification of March 12 calling upon the elected members of Jharkhand Legislative Assembly to elect two members to the Council of States,” it said.
While Rajya Sabha elections have been countermanded in the past, this is the first time that such a step has been taken on account of vitiation of the election process because of money power. The Commission’s decision came after a day-long meeting to inquire into the source of the huge cash seizures made by Income Tax authorities in Ranchi on Friday morning.
After the election, the Election Commission had instructed its officials to keep process of counting and declaration of result on hold following reports of I-T raids across Jharkhand and seizure of Rs 2.15 crore allegedly belonging to independent candidate RK Agrawal. I-T Department intercepted a vehicle registered against the name of one Sushil Kumar Agrawal, brother of RK Agrawal, an Independent candidate. “We believe that the said amount was to be used to influence voting,” I-T Commissioner Vir Birsa Munda told the media.
Earlier after a high-voltage political drama on Friday, the BJP voted for its alliance partner and JMM candidate Sanjeev Kumar.
The BJP, which had earlier announced to abstain from voting, finally decided to vote for Sanjeev Kumar of the JMM. The BJP asked all its 18 MLAs to cast their first preference votes to the JMM candidate. The party warned its MLAs of disciplinary action if they defy order or cast second preference vote. But before announcing this, the BJP asked the JMM to ensure that all its 18 MLAs cast their vote to Sanjeev and none put themselves on the auction.
There are five candidates in the fray, including Sanjeev Kumar (JMM), Pradeep Balmuchu (Cong), Praveen Singh (JVM), RK Agrawal and Pawan Kumar Dhoot both Independent.