A day after Rs 48 lakh was seized from three Jharkhand Congress MLAs in West Bengal’s Howrah district, the party on Sunday suspended the legislators, who were detained by the Bengal police, with immediate effect. The party had earlier alleged that it was BJP’s ploy to topple the JMM-Congress government in Jharkhand. However, the party has now distanced itself from the incident and has decided to take action against the errant MLAs.
“We have information on everyone. In the coming days, be it any public representative, party’s office bearer, or any worker, whoever is found connected or involved in this, the party will take action against them,” said Avinash Pande, General Secretary and In-charge, Jharkhand Congress addressing a press conference at the party headquarters in Delhi, while adding that the three MLAs — Irfan Ansari from Jamtara, Rajesh Kachhap from Khijri, and Naman Bixal Kongari from Kolebira — have been suspended by party interim President Sonia Gandhi with immediate effect.
Earlier, the local police on Saturday stopped an SUV on the national highway-16 at Howrah’s Ranihati upon receiving an anonymous tip. Subsequently, the police detained them. According to reports, the MLAs had told the police that the cash was being taken to Kolkata’s Barabazar area to gift to people from the tribal community. Apart from the Howrah rural police, income tax and CID officials have also questioned the MLAs, while their lawyers argued that they were stopped from visiting their clients.
Irfan Ansari’s brother claimed that the MLA came to buy sarees. “Will the government be toppled in 45 lakh? He works for the poor, which is why this is a conspiracy of the opposition. We are here from 2 AM in the night, but nobody is talking to us,” said his brother.
Earlier, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh had claimed that BJP’s infamous ‘Operation Lotus’ was at play. “The game plan of ‘Hum Do’ in Delhi is to do in Jharkhand what they did in Maharashtra by installing E-D duo,” he wrote on Twitter.
“It is in the BJP’s nature to try and destabilise any government that’s not theirs. The same has been done against CM Hemant Soren’s government,” Bandhu Tirkey, Working President of Jharkhand Congress had claimed earlier while adding, “The only reason the MLAs were given money is to make the government fall.”