New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday alleged that a "cash for votes" scam was busted in Arunachal Pradesh with the recovery of Rs 1.8 crore in cash from Chief Minister Pema Khandu's convoy and asked the poll panel to register a case against Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as the chief minister and his deputy.
Accusing the BJP of using "money power" to woo voters in the northeast, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Rs 1.8 crore was allegedly recovered from the chief minister's convoy in Pasighat around midnight, hours before Modi was to address a rally there on Wednesday morning.
Khandu and his deputy Chowna Mein should be immediately sacked, he said and also sought the termination of the candidature of Tapir Gao, the BJP’s Arunachal Pradesh president who has been fielded from the Arunachal West Lok Sabha constituency.
Surjewala showed two videos purportedly showing the cash being recovered in the presence of officials of the Election Commission, the local administration and the police.
The party did not vouch for the authenticity of the videos, saying they were available on social media. It also claimed the raid was conducted after Youth Congress workers complained to authorities in Pasighat.
There was no immediate comment available from the BJP or the EC on the recovery of the cash in a midnight operation.
Alleging a cash for votes scandal in Arunachal Pradesh, Surjewala said, "Facing imminent defeat, a desperate BJP is resorting to 'money power' in the northeast.
"A midnight raid on the convoy of BJP’s Arunachal Pradesh CM Pema Khandu, Deputy CM Chowna Mein and BJP Arunachal President Tapir Gao has found Rs 1.8 crore in stacks of hard cash that exposes the brazen corruption and poll violation, as PM Modi holds a rally in Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh."
He said the party demands that a case be registered against the prime minister, the chief minister and the deputy chief minister.
"Why is the Election Commission sleeping and not taking action in the matter and not registered a case so far. Why is the case being hushed up?" he asked.
According to the Congress leader, the videos emerged on social media and showed the cash being counted by police officers in the presence of Election Commission’s Expenditure Officer Samrita Kaur Gill. Pasighat Deputy Commissioner Kinny Singh is heard talking in the video and stacks of cash are visible, he said.
"Was Rs 1.8 crore of hard cash being transferred for the rally of PM Modi in Pasighat today, personally in the CM’s convoy and in the safe hands of BJP president. Where did such a large amount come from?" Surjewala asked.
Surjewala also asked whether this cash was reportedly transferred for Modi’s morning rally in Pasighat.
"Isn’t concealing and hoarding cash during an election a 'corrupt practice' and a serious violation of law under Section 123(1) of the Representation of the People Act 1951 and Section 171B of the IPC and a solid ground for termination of candidature?" he sought to know.
Surjewala alleged the BJP is trying to hush up the matter and sought to know whether the prime minister knew about the stacks of cash being "transferred".
"If yes, an FIR should be immediately filed against PM Narendra Modi, Arunachal CM Prema Khandu and BJP’s Arunachal Pradesh President Tapir Gao," he said.