BJP to set up panel to probe ‘Leh bribery’ charge, questions claims of scribes

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Published: May 8, 2019 6:44:02 PM

Raina also said he will file a defamation case against the Press Club Leh for naming him in the bribery complaint, which he termed as "politically motivated".

BJP MLC Vikram Randhawa denied the bribery charge and alleged the episode was the handiwork of anti-party elements in Kashmir which were sponsored by the Congress. (Reuters File)BJP MLC Vikram Randhawa denied the bribery charge and alleged the episode was the handiwork of anti-party elements in Kashmir which were sponsored by the Congress. (Reuters File)

The BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir unit will set up a committee to probe the allegation that some party leaders tried to bribe journalists to influence parliamentary polls, party’s state unit chief Ravinder Raina said Wednesday, even as a legislator named in the matter claimed the envelopes given to scribes had invitations and not money.

Raina also said he will file a defamation case against the Press Club Leh for naming him in the bribery complaint, which he termed as “politically motivated”. “There will be a probe into it. We will set up a committee to probe the allegation of scribes of Leh,” he said. Raina said that he is moving an application in Jammu and Kashmir High Court seeking narco-test of the scribes and BJP leaders including him.

“If anybody from the party is found involved, he will be dealt severely,” the state BJP president said. Raina said that the committee will submit its report after visiting Leh, where it will talk to journalists and others and review the CCTV footage. On Saturday, the Press Club Leh had accused the BJP of trying to bribe its members by offering “envelopes filled with money” after a press conference, a charge denied by the party.

A two-page letter signed by several members of the Press Club was circulating on social media, seeking an FIR against Raina and MLC Vikram Randhawa for allegedly trying to bribe journalists. A CCTV footage of the alleged incident also came to light. Raina, however, questioned the claim of the journalists saying why was the money not shown in the CCTV footage. “They should have shown the notes after opening the packets. They had camera too,” he said.

“The press conference was held on May 2 and they could have shown it on the same day. Only on May 4 it came out in social media as a planned conspiracy to defame BJP,” Raina said. “It is politically motivated. I will go for defamation. My name has been mentioned in the complaint. I had already left with three scribes for interview with DD and Air Leh,” he said.

Meanwhile, BJP MLC Vikram Randhawa denied the bribery charge and alleged the episode was the handiwork of anti-party elements in Kashmir which were sponsored by the Congress. “All allegations of Leh journalists are baseless and misleading. It was supported by ‘anti-BJP elements in Kashmir’ and Congress to malign the image of the party,” Randhawa, who is the party’s Ladakh incharge, said.

“The CCTV grab being circulated on the social media is of the invitation envelopes being given to reporters for the coverage of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to Leh on May 4. This is being shown as if money is being given to them,” the MLC claimed. He said that some media persons opened the envelopes and returned them saying they don’t need special invitation as they were already covering the event.

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