Ranchi, March 31 (IANS) The mineral-rich state of Jharkhand has again hit the national headlines -- for the wrong reasons.
Perhaps for the first time, the Election Commission of India has recommended to the President of India to cancel the Rajya Sabha poll from Jharkhand.
The ECI Friday stopped the counting of votes for two seats from Jharkhand after money was seized from a car belonging to an independent candidate's relative and recommended to President Pratibha Patil that the poll notification be cancelled.
The income tax department in Jharkhand had earlier seized Rs.2.15 crore from an Innova car coming to Ranchi from Jamshedpur on the outskirts of the city, suspected to be payoffs for getting a favourable vote from some legislators.
"Jharkhand has been again defamed," rued Babulal Marandi, former chief minister and president of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P).
The allegation of money power in Rajya polls is not new. Jharkhand has a history of outsider businessmen eyeing Rajya Sabha seats from the state. At present, two of the four members are outsiders. Both are businessmen. One is K.D. Singh and other Parimal Nathwani.
Even in 2012, three businessmen including Anshuman Mishra, an NRI, filed nomination papers for the two Rajya Sabha seats. Mishra was supported by the BJP. When central BJP leaders expressed unhappiness over Mishra's name, then the BJP back-tracked and decided to abstain from the poll. In view of the BJP stand, Mishra withdrew his candidature.
According to an IT official, Rs.2.15 crore which was seized from a vehicle belonged to independent candidate R.K. Agrawal.
The role of ruling BJP is also being questioned over its stand - to first support an NRI then to abstain from voting, and then at the last moment to vote for the JMM candidate.
"I do not know by whose direction BJP legislators voted in the Rajya Sabha poll," said senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha.
In the past, Jharkhand hit the headlines for many wrong reasons. Jharkhand has witnessed eight governments and president's rule twice in the last 11 years. Jharkhand created history when independent legislator Madhu Koda became chief minister in 2006 and ruled the state for two years. Koda and three of his cabinet colleques are in jail in connection with graft cases.
The first big scam known as fodder scam surfaced in 1990s during undivided Bihar. Majority of Rs.950 crore was siphoned off from government treasuries from (present) Jharkhand. Of the 61 fodder scam cases, 52 cases were transferred to Jharkhand in 2000 when it was carved from Bihar.
Several IAS officials are facing graft cases. One IAS official, Sajjal Chakravarty, was convicted and awarded four years' imprisonment in the fodder scam. Another IAS official, Pradeep Kumar, was in jail in a medicine scam. Jharkhand ex-chief secretary A.K. Singh was sent to jail in a graft case.
Efforts to change the dented image of Jharkhand again suffered a huge blow after the Election Commission Friday cancelled the poll for two Rajya Sabha seats over horse- trading charges.
What is interesting is that the names of leaders of many parties figure in different graft cases. The JMM bribery case involving JMM chief Shibu Soren had hit the headlines in early 1990s. In the Koda scam, the names of many state and some Congress leaders surfaced.
(Nityanand Shukla can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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