M A I N   N E W S

Cash Row
Jaswant under EC scanner
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, April 1
With video footage showing that a woman was indeed offered monetary assistance in BJP candidate Manvendra Singh’s rally at Gagaria village in Barmer Lok Sabha seat, 550 km from here, trouble seems to be brewing for his father and senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh.

Talking to The Tribune, Chief Electoral Officer Vinod Zutshi said he has forwarded the CD and the report submitted to him by the District Magistrate to the Election Commission. He said the video footage showed that a woman was offered financial aid after being invited on dais while help was also promised to the people present there for getting some tubewells installed. He, however, said the allegation levelled by the Congress regarding disbursal of Rs 100 notes is yet to be established. “The SDM is investigating into the matter,” he added.

Official sources said the former union minister has been charged with money distribution, disbursal of food packets and promise to install tubewells.

On the other hand, in his first reaction to the charges levelled against him, Jaswant Singh has simply said: “It is a crime to help the poor in the Congress rule in Rajasthan.” He is also reported to have said that not much should be read into it because firstly, he is not a candidate and secondly, he is only helping the needy and not luring the voters as it is being projected.

Whatever may be the outcome of the inquiry, the Jaswant Singh episode has given the Congress fresh ammunition to attack the BJP. State Congress Spokesperson Satyendra Raghav said the way Jaswant Singh and BJP MP Kailash Meghwal were shown doling out cash to the voters, it seems the BJP wants to win these elections “by hook or by crook”.

This is not the first incident of a BJP leader courting trouble over alleged violation of model code of conduct in the state. A few days back, the BJP candidate from Nagaur, Bindu Chaudhary, was accused of disbursing cash to mediapersons during a press conference. The mediapersons were reportedly given Rs 1,000 each in envelopes. In her reply to the EC, she had defended herself by stating that it was the party’s press conference and not hers.

The BJP, meanwhile, seems to be on the defensive. Senior BJP leader Arun Chaturvedi said the Congress should first set its own house in the order, adding that everyone knew what their sitting MP Govinda did.



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