State Congress president Pradeep Balmuchu (centre) with party MLA KN Tripathy (second from right), whose house was raided by the CBI, in Ranchi on Sunday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Ranchi, April 22: The CBI, put on the job by Jharkhand High Court to trace funds allegedly misused by Independent candidates during the March 30 Rajya Sabha elections, concluded the first round of its statewide search operation today with some clinching evidence, particularly against Jamtara MLA Vishnu Bhaiya.
A CBI official said they had seized a car worth around Rs 25 lakh from the JMM legislator, who is said to have purchased the sedan in cash on March 31.
The CBI sleuths, who raided 14 places, concluded the operation at RJD MLA Suresh Paswan’s Deoghar residence and Congress MLA K.N. Tripathy’s house in Daltonganj.
Joint director A.K. Singh and SSP R.C. Choudhary monitored the operation.
A CBI official said the three MLAs came under the agency’s scanner in the first round, as their voting pattern raised strong suspicion that they had been influenced by the alleged horse-trading.
They had showed their ballot papers to persons other than their respective party agents and thus violated the prescribed voting procedure. This prompted the returning officer to invalidate their votes. Such a move could have helped the Independent nominees only. Under Rajya Sabha election norms, the MLAs can show their votes to their party agent alone.
A CBI source said the MLAs who proposed the nomination papers of Independent nominees deviating from the party line would be the next target of the agency to dig out the slush cash.
The JMM MLAs had proposed the name of Independent nominee R.K. Agrawal while Pawan Dhoot had been proposed by legislators from various parties.
Sources added they had seized laptops, book of accounts, passbooks and diaries from the premises of Agrawal and his “samdhi” R.K. Shah in Chaibasa, which might give evidence of money transaction.
“We cannot say much at this point of time, as we are yet to scrutinise the documents, call details and other seized documents,” pointed out a senior CBI official.
“We will try to connect all the evidences in order to establish use of funds to get votes,” he added.
“Agrawal appeared to be a shrewd person, but we will try to nail him,” said a CBI official, who grilled him yesterday.
The Election Commission had countermanded elections after income tax authorities recovered Rs 2.15 crore in cash from a car belonging to Agrawal’s cousin on the outskirts of Ranchi on March 30.