Updated: July 27, 2021 2:43:07 am
Three MLAs from the ruling coalition in Jharkhand had allegedly accompanied the three people arrested in a case of alleged conspiracy to destabilise the Hemant Soren government to New Delhi, where they met two BJP leaders from Maharashtra, among “others”, as part of the alleged conspiracy, two of the three accused have said in a statement recorded before police.
Both BJP leaders from Nagpur district — Chandrashekhar Bawankule, former state Energy minister and ex-MLA from Kamptee, and Charan Singh Thakur, party councillor from Katol in Nagpur district — strongly denied the allegations. They said they have never visited Jharkhand or know enough about the state to even think of any such conspiracy.
Maharashtra BJP chief spokesperson Keshav Upadhye said, “All charges levelled against state BJP and its leaders are baseless. There is not an iota of truth in the allegations…. Even Jharkhand MLAs have denied the allegations.”
Arrested accused Abhishek Dubey, who works as a contractor in Jharkhand, and Niwaran Prasad Mahato, who unsuccessfully contested the 2019 state elections from Bokaro, said in their statement to Jharkhand Police on July 22 that they were approached by the third accused arrested, Amit Singh, to be part of the “kharid-farok (horse-trading)” of MLAs in a bid to destablise the Soren government.
Their statements do not name the three MLAs from the ruling coalition.
The three accused were arrested on Saturday, two days after a case was registered at Ranchi’s Kotwali police station on a complaint by Congress MLA from Bermo, Kumar Jaimangal, stating that the trio was involved in the conspiracy.
In their statement to police, Dubey and Mahato said they left Ranchi on July 15 with the three Jharkhand MLAs and met Bawankule and Thakur in Delhi along with a “middleman” named Jai Kumar Belkhede.
Dubey’s statement says the three MLAs went to a hotel in Delhi’s Dwarka and reportedly met the “senior leaders for 15 minutes”.
According to Dubey, all three MLAs were offered Rs 1 crore the next day — July 16. But having received no money, they left Delhi for Ranchi, he told police.
In his statement, Mahato said: “(After) we became friends, he (Singh) approached me to arrange a meeting with some MLAs…. We left for Delhi on July 15 and after the meeting they left. We left for Ranchi on July 17, while Abhishek Dubey stayed in Delhi with Belkhede…”
From Ranchi, Mahato said he left for Bokaro. “Apart from us, Belkhede, (the) MLAs from Maharashtra and middlemen and financiers were involved in this entire conspiracy,” he said in his statement.
Their statements name a few others, who were apparently financiers or middlemen in the alleged conspiracy.
The police are yet to explain the modus operandi; they have only issues a press release, stating that the three accused have said they were involved in a conspiracy against the government and were planning to destabilise it.
In the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly, Soren’s JMM has 30 MLAs, while allies Congress has 16 and RJD 1. The BJP has 25 MLAs and the JVM(P) 3, while 4 are Independents.
Dismissing the allegations, Bawankule told the media in Nagpur, “I am a very small (BJP) worker. I work in Maharashtra as the party’s general secretary. I have no relation with Jharkhand. I have not even been to Jharkhand. I do not have the aukaat (capacity) to pull down the government there.”
Calling it a conspiracy to defame BJP, Bawankule said, “I don’t know how my name cropped up in this matter…. Police will investigate.”
Thakur, said, “I am a small man from Katol, where I am just a party group leader in the municipal council. I rarely venture out of Katol…. I have not even seen Jhankhand.”
Asked how his name figured in the controversy, Thakur said, “That is the question for me as well.”
Thakur is a former Municipal Council chief of Katol and was the BJP candidate from Katol constituency for 2019 Assembly elections. He was defeated by NCP’s Anil Deshmukh.
Jaikumar Belkhede, who runs a training academy called ‘Tango Charlie’ in Katol for Army and police recruitment aspirants, could not be reached for a comment. A former CRPF personnel, Belkhede was arrested for alleged involvement in 2014 and 2017 cases of Army recruitment examination paper leaks. Thakur denied that Belkhede had any connections with the BJP.
— With inputs from Vivek Deshpande in Nagpur & ENS, Mumbai
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