The full Commission will meet in the next few days

The Election Commission, which on Friday countermanded the Rajya Sabha biennial election for two seats from Jharkhand mainly due to “horse-trading and abundant use of money power to woo voters [MLAs],” will soon meet to fix a new date for the fresh poll.

The full Commission — Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi and Election Commissioners V.S. Sampath and H.S. Brahma — will meet in the next few days specifically for this and decide the date. Informed sources said though there was no time frame for filling the seats, as they would become vacant from April 2 following retirement of the current members, “we will fill them as soon as possible considering the coming President/Vice-President elections in which the members of Parliament would be the voters.” A new schedule would be worked out following reports obtained from the State authorities. Also the Commission was considering to appoint special observers to monitor the poll process this time.

Mr. Quraishi, who earlier spoke to The Hindu on the EC's decision to countermand the poll, pointed out that the Commission took the decision as the last option because under no circumstance did it want to allow violation of law or corrupt practices using money power. “The Commission views horse-trading instances very seriously and it always wants to ensure a free and fair poll with level playing field,” he said.

Horse-trading, seizure of money

Meanwhile, the EC sources said of the 81 members in the Jharkhand Assembly (one seat is vacant), 79 had turned up for voting on Friday in Ranchi and of them three voters (MLAs) — Vishnu Bhaiya (Jharkhand Mukti Morcha), K.N. Tripathi (Congress), and Suresh Pashwan (Rashtriya Janata Dal) — showed their ballot papers to persons other than their respective party agents, and thus, violated the prescribed voting procedure. “This raises a strong suspicion that the votes of the three MLAs may have been influenced by the alleged horse-trading.”

Similarly earlier in the day, when the Income Tax authorities seized Rs.2.15 crore cash being transported from Jamshedpur to Ranchi in a vehicle belonging to the brother of an independent contestant, two more vehicles which too were carrying unaccounted cash and following the first vehicle, went back to Jamshedpur after learning about the interception.

The cash in the subsequent two vehicles was reportedly handed over at the residence of one Prakash Khemani at Jamshedpur. A search action has been initiated at the residence of Mr. Khemani and surveys were being conducted on his office premises and in some other firms, the sources said.