Congress suspends 3 Jharkhand MLAs found with pile of cash in West Bengal's Howrah

Congress sees in it a BJP plot that was hatched in Assam to destabilise the Jharkhand government

Law Kumar Mishra Aritra SinghaUpdated: Sunday, July 31, 2022, 10:41 PM IST
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Congress MLAs (L-R) Rajesh Kacchap, Naman Viksal and Irfan Ansari. Jharkhand Congress In-Charge Avinash Pande | (PTI Photo)

Patna/Kolkata: The three Congress MLAs of Jharkhand, who were caught with a pile of cash by the West Bengal Police on Saturday night, were suspended by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday morning for anti-party activity.

Tariq Anwar, the AICC general secretary, has alleged that the seizure was allegedly linked to the BJP and the payoff to the three MLAs was part of a conspiracy to make the state government fall.

The Congress party has further alleged that the BJP had offered Rs 10 crore to each MLA. A Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee functionary has even filed an FIR against the three MLAs accusing them of plotting to topple the government.

The three MLAs -- Irfan Ansari, Rajesh Kaschap and Viman Viksal -- who were overnight in detention at Panchal police station, have been formally arrested. The West Bengal police had seized Rs 48 lakhs of unaccounted cash from the vehicle of Irfan.

JMM spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya claimed nine legislators of the ruling alliance were under surveillance as they were suspected to be part of a plan to pull down the elected government. Mobile phones of five of them were still switched off.

According to senior party leaders at Ranchi, the three MLAs had left the state capital suddenly during the monsoon session of the Assembly and had received money in West Bengal after crossing Jamtara in Jharkhand. The deal was allegedly settled through a senior BJP leader from Assam last week in a hotel in New Delhi.

Meanwhile, the three MLAs, who have been remanded to 10 days’ police custody in Howrah, had gone to meet Assam Chief Minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma and returned to Kolkata on Saturday, sources have claimed. Following the discrepancies in their statements they were arrested.

The MLAs are being interrogated and a case has been lodged under section 420 (cheating and fraud), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 171E (bribery) of the IPC.

Jaimangal Singh, a Congress MLA from Bermo in Jharkhand, has filed a complaint at Argora police station in Ranchi accusing the arrested MLAs of trying to bribe him. “Irfan Ansari and Rajesh Kachchap wanted me to come to Kolkata en route to Guwahati where, according to him, he would have meet Assam Chief Minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma,’’ reads the complaint. The Chief Minister of Assam, too, has said that several heavyweight Congress leaders are in touch with him.

According to the arrested MLAs, they are ‘innocent’ and were visiting Kolkata to buy clothes from Burrabazar for an upcoming tribal festival.

TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh slammed the BJP and suggested that the BJP was trying to oust the government of Jharkhand, as it had done in Maharashtra.

State BJP president Sukanta Majumdar, however, said, “The way the TMC is reacting it seems it was the TMC’s money which they were trying to siphon off with the help of Sonia Gandhi and the Congress.”

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