New Delhi/Ranchi, March 30 (IANS) Amid reports of horse trading in the Rajya Sabha polls, the Election Commission Friday stopped the counting of votes in the biennial elections in Jharkhand after Rs.2.15 crore was seized from a car belonging to a relative of an independent candidate.
The income tax department in Jharkhand on Friday seized Rs.2.15 crore from an Innova car coming to Ranchi from Jamshedpur on the outskirts of the city and also conducted raids on two businessmen in the steel city Jamshedpur, said an official.
'Acting on an intelligence input, we raided the Innova car. Around Rs.2.15 crore was seized from it. The EC had alerted the income tax department about horse trading for the Rajya Sabha polls,' an official told IANS on condition of anonymity.
The IT department had received a letter from the poll panel Wednesday evening regarding horse trading in the Rajya Sabha polls. The EC had asked the IT officials to keep tabs on any horse trading. The IT officials were keeping close watch on the accounts of legislators and on any form of money transaction linked to the upper house polls.
According to sources in the department, the vehicle from which the money was seized belonged to a relative of an independent candidate R.K. Agrawal. Sources said the names of a few legislators was found written on a piece of paper recovered from the seized vehicle. Agrawal, however, denied that the money belonged to him.
'We are investigating the case related to seizure of money,' Ajit Srivastav, director of IT, told reporters.
According to sources in the IT department, money was sent to Ranchi in three vehicles and only one vehicle was seized.
The IT sleuths also raided the houses and offices of two businessmen. The officials declined to divulge details of the raids. One of the businessmen whose house was raided is a relative of Agrawal.
Polling for two Rajya Sabha seats took place in the Jharkhand assembly on Friday.
Five candidates, including two independents, are in the fray. The five candidates are Sanjiv Kumar of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Pradeep Balmuchu of the Congress, Praveen Kumar Singh of the Jharkhand Vikash Morcha-Prajatantrik, and two independents - R.K. Agarwal and Pawan Kumar Dhut.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal, which has five legislators, has supported the Congress candidate in the poll. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) voted in favour of the JMM candidate.
Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said in Ranchi: 'The EC should countermand the polls. We welcome the EC move to put the counting on hold.'
Earlier, the Election Commission asked the returning officers of the Jharkhand and Uttarakhand assemblies not to start counting the votes scheduled for 5 p.m.
The EC asked the officers to submit detailed and comprehensive reports of the conduct of polls with special reference to any untoward incident immediately after voting was over.
Besides asking the returning officers not to start counting the votes till asked to, the poll panel also asked the election officials not to declare the results of the Rajya Sabha polls till the commission gives its nod.
The EC said it would ask the ROs to count the votes after perusing their reports on the conduct of polls.
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