The police seized Rs. 1 crore from a vehicle in Amravati no Sunday

Two days after cash worth Rs. 1 crore was seized from a vehicle in Amravati ahead of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation elections, Raosaheb Shekhawat, Congress MLA from the district and President Pratibha Patil's son, on Tuesday said the money was meant for party candidates from economically weaker sections.

The State Election Commission has taken a serious view of the matter and called for a report from the Municipal Commissioner and District Collector.

Speaking to The Hindu over phone from Amravati, Mr. Shekhawat said: “We had asked the party, that is, the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee to give us funds for the candidates. With the 50 per cent quota for women, many new faces have entered the poll fray. These are housewives and social workers from poor or economically weaker sections. We have also put up many young candidates who are not financially sound.”

Mr. Shekhawat said the party had prepared a letter stating that Rs. 1 lakh would be given for each candidate. However, there was no one to collect the letter from the Mumbai office. The cash was seized while the letter was still lying in the office.

He said the party had faxed the letter to him, which he had submitted along with his own letter to them.

“We have 87 candidates, which comes to Rs. 87 lakh and the balance amount was to be used for staging rallies and meetings and on logistics like loudspeakers and vehicles. I did not know how the said amount was going to reach us. The police said that funds were misappropriated. When they seized the cash, I called the office to fax the letter to me. All the proof has been submitted to the police.”

However, the cash has to be recovered from the court. “We have appointed legal experts to deal with the court matter. After giving the letters, which is sufficient proof, the police should have released the amount, but they told us to approach the court. This is unnecessary and has complicated matters.”

“It is 100 per cent legal money. Every party gives funds,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party has called upon the Commission to take strict action against those involved.

The two persons arrested in connection with the cash seizure were released on Tuesday, Amravati Police Commissioner Amitesh Kumar said.

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