The Election Commission (EC) has ordered action against Jharkhand Chief Minister’s advisor and a police officer for allegedly trying to influence Rajya Sabha elections in the state.
The EC, in a letter dated June 13, said it has found “a prima facie case” to proceed against Ajay Kumar and Anurag Gupta and ordered the chief secretary to initiate “departmental disciplinary action” against them for “misuse of official position, interference in elections and breach of conduct/service rules…” It has suggested the government to invoke the Prevention of Corruption Act and Sections 171B and 171C of the IPC, relating to bribery of voters. The EC has asked to be kept informed about the action taken.
The decision follows former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi’s complaint in which he accused Das and the BJP of in horse-trading in the run-up to the polls. Marandi, who heads the state’s main Opposition party, had released audio clips and a video that contained purported conversations to prove that Gupta and Kumar were allegedly trying to get MLA Nirmala Kumari to either vote for the BJP or abstain. The BJP had won both Rajya Sabha seats from the state.
The BJP had defended Das and questioned the tapes, but the EC has found merit in the allegations. Jharkhand government spokesperson Nidhi Khare said, “The notice has been received. The matter is being dealt with.’’
Sources added that the Home Department would be looking into the issue pertaining to the ADG, while the case of CM’s aide was likely to be considered by the cabinet secretariat. Efforts to reach Home Secretary proved futile.
Meanwhile, sources close to the CM office claimed that Kumar, did not receive any notice from the EC. Kumar, then political advisor to CM and now his press advisor refused to comment.
EC’s move, which puts a question mark over the sanctity of the election process and results, is not unprecedented. In 2012, the Commission has cancelled elections to two Rajya Sabha seats following seizure of Rs 2.15 crore cash by Income-Tax authorities from a vehicle reportedly owned by the brother of one of the Independent candidates barely hours before polls.