They allegedly took money from corporates for doing favours after getting elected

The Election Commission on Saturday directed seven district election officers of Uttar Pradesh to register criminal cases against 11 party candidates, who claimed that they took money from corporate houses for fighting the poll in a quid pro quo for serving their interests after getting elected to the Assembly — they would organise groups of “vested interests” in the House.

The Commission, besides alerting the investigation wing of the Income-Tax office in Lucknow about the claim, called for an action taken report from U.P. Chief Electoral Officer by Sunday.

The Commission, which took suo motu action following a “sting operation” conducted by a Hindi TV channel — India TV — and telecast on January 26, was shocked to hear from some of the prospective candidates that they spent between Rs.1 crore and Rs. 3 crore, which includes expense in the name of dummy candidates, and liquor and other goodies for the electors, though the maximum expenditure allowed in an Assembly poll as per rule is only around Rs.16 lakh.

The Commission directed the election officers in charge of the districts, where the 11 persons (supposed to be candidates) hail from, to file criminal cases against them.

As the incident amounted to taking bribe, the persons, if convicted by court, might have to spend up to one year in jail or pay a fine. Besides, they might face disqualification for continuing as MLAs if elected, and also be barred from contesting any poll in future, the EC warned.

Appeal to parties

The Commission, which went through the transcript of the sting “Operation MLA,” appealed to the political parties, to which the candidates allegedly belonged, to inquire into the matter and advise their functionaries to refrain from such activities.

“The Commission has reiterated its stand that such bribery be made a cognisable offence under the IPC. The Commission has once again approached the government to pass an ordinance to make suitable changes in the law, as the matter is quite serious,” the EC said.

It directed all poll officials in U.P. to deal firmly with any incident of “bribe” taken or offered by the candidates. The entire production, sale and distribution of liquor should be monitored everyday and illicit liquor seized.

Movement of unaccounted cash should be monitored and seized, the Commission said.