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Congress expels 3 Jharkhand MLAs arrested over cash haul

West Bengal Police personnel escort three Jharkhand Congress MLAs in Howrah district on July 31, 2022 after a huge amount of cash was found in their vehicle the previous night.

West Bengal Police personnel escort three Jharkhand Congress MLAs in Howrah district on July 31, 2022 after a huge amount of cash was found in their vehicle the previous night. | Photo Credit: PTI

A major political row has erupted over the seizure of cash from three Jharkhand Congress MLAs in West Bengal with the party alleging attempts by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to destabilise the government in Jharkhand. The Congress on Sunday expelled the three MLAs and a police complaint was registered at Ranchi against the MLAs for allegedly offering money to topple the government in Jharkhand. 

The West Bengal Police on Saturday had detained Jamtara MLA Irfan Ansari, Khijri MLA Rajesh Kachhap, and Kolebira MLA Naman Bixal Kongari with cash valued at about ₹49 lakh stacked in their vehicles. On Sunday, the three MLAs, and two others accompanying them, were arrested and remanded to the custody of the State Police’s Criminal Investigation Department till August 10. 

Wads of cash that were found in a vehicle in which three Jharkhand Congress MLAs Irfan Ansari, Rajesh Kachhap and Naman Viksal Kongadi, were travelling at Ranihati in Howrah district on July 30, 2022.

Wads of cash that were found in a vehicle in which three Jharkhand Congress MLAs Irfan Ansari, Rajesh Kachhap and Naman Viksal Kongadi, were travelling at Ranihati in Howrah district on July 30, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Addressing a press conference in Delhi, Congress leader Avinash Pande, general secretary and Jharkhand in-charge, said that the party president had decided to expel the MLAs who were caught with cash and were trying to mislead others in the party with immediate effect.  Mr. Pande alleged that attempts were being made by the BJP to destabilise the elected government in Jharkhand for the past several months, and Central investigating agencies were used to intimidate MLAs. 

The Congress is part of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)-led government in Jharkhand, along with Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, while referring to the seizure of cash, on Saturday tweeted: “The BJP’s ‘Operation Lotus’ in Jharkhand stands exposed tonight in Howrah. The game plan of ‘Hum Do’ in Delhi is to do in Jharkhand what they did in Maharashtra by installing E-D duo.” 

Meanwhile, Congress leaders in Ranchi, including Bermo MLA Kumar Jaimangal (Anup Singh) held a press conference and said that he has lodged a police complaint against the three legislators for allegedly luring other MLAs by offering ₹10 crore each and a Ministerial berth if the BJP formed the government in the State. 

The MLA, in his complaint at Ranchi’s Argora Police Station, said that the arrested MLAs “wanted to take me to Guwahati from Kolkata where, according to them, a meeting was fixed with Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma”. 

While the three arrested MLAs claimed that they were carrying cash to buy sarees from Kolkata, sources in the West Bengal Police said that the MLAs had returned to Kolkata from Guwahati. 

Responding to these charges, the Assam Chief Minister said allegations of trying to topple the government in Jharkhand were not correct and added that many Congress leaders maintained good ties with him. 

“Congress leaders keep in touch with me as old friends. I had been in that party for over 20 years. They meet me if they come here and I also meet them when in New Delhi,” Mr. Biswa Sharma told journalists in Guwahati.  


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Printable version | Aug 27, 2022 10:11:22 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/three-jharkhand-congress-mlas-arrested-after-cash-haul-in-howrah/article65706986.ece