M A I N   N E W S

Over 30 FIRs for code violation in Bihar
Code not violated, says Laloo
Tribune News Service and Agencies

New Delhi, December 24
Even as Railway Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Laloo Prasad Yadav today refuted the Election Commission’s charge that he had violated the Model Code of Conduct by bribing the voters in Bihar ahead of the February polls, the probe team by the poll-panel submitted its “factual” report on the alleged misuse of government machinery and violation of model code of conduct in the state.

“I have submitted the reply in writing. I have told them the truth,” Laloo told reporters after nearly an hour long meeting the Chief Election Commissioner T.S. Krishna Murthy here.

According to an agency report from Patna, more than 30 FIRs have so far been registered with different police stations in Bihar’s Patna, Muzaffarpur and Vaishali districts for violation of the model code of conduct for elections, official sources said on Friday.

On Monday, the Commission had issued a show cause notice to Laloo seeking his reply as to why his party should not be derecognised for “disregarding and failing” to abide by the model code of conduct and its lawful directions to ensure free and fair polls. It had asked him to file the reply by 1500 hours today.

“A factual report has been submitted to the Commission and it is for it to decide”, said EC Adviser K.J. Rao, who was sent to Patna to monitor the RJD rally on December 23, which has since been called off.

He, however, refused to say anything on his findings.

Claiming neither he nor his partymen had violated the model code of conduct, Laloo sounded defensive saying “we have always respected the decisions of the Commission. We have never given any bribe to anyone.”

“Whatever we have to say we have told the Commission,” Laloo said refusing to take further questions on the issue.

On his demand for one-day poll in state, he said the Commission told him it faced a problem of the availability of para-military forces for conducting the polls on a single day.

“Since the three-phased elections anyway end on February 23, there is no problem presenting the Railway Budget, Laloo said.

To a question, he said the Commission had not banned the rally but he himself cancelled it to avoid any embarrassment to anyone.

Taking suo motu action on the alleged distribution of money to electorate, the Commission had directed the Bihar Chief Electoral Officer K.C. Saha to file an FIR under Section 171(B) of the Indian Penal Code relating to the offence of bribery.

The EC Adviser during his inquiry met a cross section of the people, including government officials and businessmen, to inquire about alleged misuse of the official machinery, expenses on hoardings, banners, posters and other preparations for the rally which was called off by RJD chief Laloo Prasad, against whom the Commission directed filing of FIR for his alleged attemp to bribe voters by giving money.

As many as seven FIRs were registered against unknown persons in connection with putting up hoardings, banners and posters following the directive from Rao who took strong exception to the hoardings, banners and posters put up on government buildings, including railways premises.

The FIRs in Bihar have been lodged in connection with banners, hoardings and posters put up by the RJD and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) for their rallies.

While the LJP staged a masive rally here on November 27 its propaganda material including posters, banners and flags were still in place on government and private buildings even after the code of conduct coming into effect on December 17.

The RJD rally which was scheduled to be held here on December 23, was put off by its president Lalu Prasad in the wake of registration of an FIR charging him with bribing the electorate by distributing money among some Dalit women at Bihta last Saturday in violation of the model code.

Official sources said around 23 FIRs were lodged during the past two days with Gandhi Maidan, Kotwali, Kadamkuan, Patna City, Danapur, Khagaul, Jakkanpur and Maner police stations in Patna against certain RJD activists and unknown persons for putting up hoardings, posters and banners at restricted places, including police and railway stations and government buildings in connection with the December 23 rally.

While five FIRs were filed in different police stations at Hajipur town, seven were lodged with different police stations in Muzaffarpur against some RJD and LJP activists, besides unknown persons for putting up hoardings and posters in violation of the model code.

Election Commission adviser K J Rao during his visit here had taken strong exception to the hoardings, banners and posters on state and central government buildings and had ordered the authorities to file cases against those found guilty of violating the model code of conduct.

Meanwhile, amid hectic administrative activities following the announcement of Bihar Assembly elections, Patna District Magistrate and Election Officer Gautam Goswami, who recently won the “Time” magazine award for Asia’s heroes, proceeded on a long leave from today.

Mr Goswami, who had been appointed senior vice-president of Sahara, would join the leading business house early next month.

He said he had already sent his leave application to the state government and the Election Commission through “proper channel.” 

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |