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CBI scanner on KD Singh

- Cash-for-vote heat on JMM nominee

New Delhi, Oct. 31: The Central Bureau of Investigation is set to lodge a case against Rajya Sabha MP K.D. Singh amid suggestions that the Chandigarh-based industrialist was involved in a cash-for-vote controversy during elections to the upper House in Jharkhand.

Agency officials probing the role of money during the 2010 and 2012 elections to the House of elders in the state told The Telegraph that questioning of several accused MLAs and study of evidences suggested Singh’s involvement in the alleged scam two years ago.

“We have got enough evidence to initiate a case against Singh and are waiting for approval from the top authorities. It should not take long. Once the case is lodged against Singh, fast-paced investigation will begin in the case,” said a CBI official in charge of the case.

Singh, chairman of the Alchemist group of companies, had been fielded by the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha in the June 2010 elections to the upper House of Parliament. Although the party had only 18 seats in the Assembly, Singh got 32 votes.

He later switched camps to join the Trinamul Congress in November that year.

According to sources, the 2010 controversy centred around six Jharkhand MLAs — Simon Marandi, the now deceased Teklal Mahto (both from JMM), Rajiv Ranjan, Sawana Lakda, Yongendra Sao (Congress), and Umashankar Yadav Akela (BJP).

The legislators were caught on camera apparently negotiating for money to sell their votes. The sting operation, carried out by a private agency and a news channel, showed the MLAs purportedly demanding Rs 50 lakh to Rs 2 crore.

After the purported video became public, the Jharkhand government handed over the investigation to the state vigilance bureau. But when a fresh controversy broke out during the 2012 elections — fresh dates were set after the Election Commission countermanded the March polls following recovery of Rs 2.15 crore in cash — both cases were handed over to the CBI.

“We have questioned the accused MLAs and Singh’s name figured in all rounds of interrogation. We may also summon him for questioning in the coming few weeks,” the CBI official said.

When the controversy broke two years ago, the parties of the accused MLAs had given them clean chits. But an FIR under penal code Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and several sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, was lodged against them in Ranchi.

What followed was an inquiry by the state’s vigilance bureau, which appeared to make no headway. This year, a public interest petition filed in Jharkhand High Court sought a CBI inquiry.

In Ranchi, JMM central organisational secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya said Singh did not formally resign from the party.

“The Rajya Sabha secretariat okayed his resolution to merge with Trinamul on the ground that he happened to be the sole member of the JMM and thus leader of the party in the House.”