The Punjab Police on Wednesday registered a case after the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) complained to the State DGP, accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of an attempt to poach its MLAs.
State Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema along with party MLAs had met DGP Gaurav Yadav over the issue and demanded a thorough probe.
The ruling party had earlier said at least its 10 MLAs were approached by BJP people with a offer of ₹25 crore each in a bid to topple the State government.
An official spokesperson of the State Police said, "Following a complaint filed by some MLAs of the state, the Punjab Police registered a first information report under Section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Sections 171-B and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)." The spokesperson added, "Police registered an FIR on prima facie basis and the investigation has been transferred to the Vigilance Bureau as per standard guidelines."
Congress seeks independent investigation
Earlier in the day, the Opposition Congress had dared the ruling party to get the issue probed by an independent agency under the supervision of the High Court. A senior BJP leader also sought a CBI investigation into the accusations, describing the claims as a "most ridiculous joke".
Mr. Cheema was accompanied by party MLAs Budh Ram, Kulwant Pandori, Manjit Singh Bilaspur, Dinesh Chadha, Raman Arora, Narinder Kaur Bharaj, Rajneesh Dahiya, Rupinder Singh Happy, Sheetal Angural, and Labh Singh Ugoke to the DGP's office on Wednesday.
Addressing the media in Chandigarh, Mr. Cheema said to "expose the unholy tactics" of the BJP, he and AAP MLAs gave a formal complaint along with "all proofs" to DGP Yadav for a fair probe into the matter.
A complaint against BJP leaders and agents has also been filed for allegedly issuing death threats to Jalandhar West MLA Sheetal Angural, he said.
"He was told that if the evidence was presented, then he would be killed. We have proof of this also," Mr. Cheema claimed.
He said BJP agents and workers from Delhi and Punjab had allegedly tried to break away 35 MLAs from AAP to topple the government in Punjab.
Mr. Cheema accused the BJP of murdering democracy by toppling elected governments in various States after using Central agencies like the CBI and the ED and also by offering money.
‘Operation Lotus’ failed in Punjab, Delhi: AAP
But the "Operation Lotus" has completely failed in Punjab, said Mr. Cheema.
The Finance Minister claimed the BJP is threatened by the rising graph of AAP in other States. The BJP will never succeed in its "wicked plans" in Punjab even if they offer ₹2,200 crore because the loyal soldiers of AAP under the leadership of Arvind Kejriwal and CM Bhagwant Mann are standing like a rock, he said.
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said the BJP's "Operation Lotus" had earlier failed in Delhi where it could not buy AAP legislators.
"Now, they have tried to approach six-seven MLAs in Punjab," said Mr. Mann in a video message. "The MLAs were offered money," he alleged.
BJP demands CBI probe
BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh demanded a CBI investigation into the accusations while describing the ruling party's claims as the "most ridiculous joke".
Mr. Chugh said, "It is the most ridiculous joke that AAP is playing on Punjabis for the simple reason that they want to deflect the people's attention from gross corruption the AAP government has done in liquor policy in Punjab." Mr. Chugh said by going to the DGP with a complaint on the basis of "fake calls", the AAP government is getting into cheap and deceptive politics, which in the long run would prove to be a disaster for Punjab.
He said a similar tactic was adopted by AAP in Delhi, which ultimately "proved to be a hoax".
"AAP is playing politics of ridicule and mimicry to divert people's attention from the core issues that are putting a grave threat to Punjab," he said.
The Punjab Congress demanded that the AAP government get the issue probed by an independent investigating agency under the supervision of the High Court.
It also asked AAP to produce evidence against the BJP on the allegations of horse trading in the State.
"There is strong probability of AAP imploding in Punjab with MLAs feeling suffocated, disillusioned and alienated as the power is being wielded and enjoyed by outsiders," state Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring said.
Hence, the party is trying to make an excuse as it did in Delhi by levelling similar allegations and nothing came out of those allegations there, he stated.