Gujarat bribery row: Congress demands court-monitored probe

Manish Tewari

New Delhi, Oct 23: The Congress on Monday sought a court-monitored probe into allegations levelled by a Patidar leader from north Gujarat that a bribe of Rs 1 crore was offered to him to join the BJP in poll-bound Gujarat.

Narendra Patel of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) led by Hardik Patel, claimed on Sunday that the BJP had tried to buy his political loyalty for Rs 1 crore and even paid Rs 10 lakh in advance.

Addressing media, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said the bribery allegations were “very serious” and Narendra Patel had accused Gujarat BJP President Jitubhai Vaghani as being the culprit.

“It calls for a reaction from Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and BJP President (Amit Shah). It calls for registration of an FIR against the Gujarat BJP leaders. It calls for investigation under the supervision of a Gujarat High Court Judge. If this is not checked, the sanctity of the Gujarat election process will be questioned in times to come,” Tewari asserted.

The Congress leader stated it was incumbent on PM Modi to probe the allegations as these were being levelled against his own party’s leaders.

The former Union Minister also claimed that it was the third case in a span of 24 hours and is indicative of the “ignorance, arrogance, and frustration” within the ruling BJP.

Tewari also accused the ruling party of trying to “break” the people-led movements opposed to the BJP rule in poll-bound Gujarat.

“Why is the BJP trying to coerce, lure, bribe leaders of this movement and trying to break it? Isn’t it a clear sign of their frustration? Isn’t it a clear manifestation of their demoralisation?” he questioned.

Tewari said Patel leader Nikhil Sawani quit the BJP within days of joining it.

He stated  “allegations of bribery” were also levelled by Congress MLAs at the time of high-level Rajya Sabha elections earlier this year.

“The Congress MLAs in Gujarat were coerced, and attempts to bribe them were made. Every instrumentality of the state and central governments was misused by the BJP-led Union government. The Income Tax Department, Enforcement Directorate, and God knows which other agency was tasked to raid a resort where the MLAs were staying in order to protect themselves.”

Tewari said truth however prevailed in the end and the BJP witnessed defeat in Rajya Sabha polls.

The Congress leader also took potshots at Modi for saying in Gujarat on Sunday that the Centre would not give a single penny to any state opposed to ‘vikas’ or development.

“The Prime Minister has insulted 6.5 crore Gujaratis by hinting that he will give money only to those states which vote for Modi’s development.

“But the public money is not anyone’s private property and such threats constitute an assault on the Centre-State relations and federalism,” the Congress leader asserted.

He said: “Modi has unleashed the most direct attack on federalism by threatening the Gujarat people if they don’t vote for the BJP.”

Asked on the Election Commission clarification on the Gujarat polls, Tewari said: “What they have articulated is not rocket science.”

“The fundamental question is — why has the Election Commission digressed from time-honoured convention that elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat are held simultaneously?

“Why have election dates in Gujarat not been declared? Why has the Model Code of Conduct not been enforced?” The Congress leader asked.

“They (BJP) are trying hard to delay Gujarat elections as much as possible so that the Prime Minister can dole out as many sops as possible in between ,” he further added.

The poll panel had declared dates for Himachal Pradesh polls on October 12 but held off announcing the Gujarat schedule.

Wefornews Bureau 

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