CBI officers come out of MLA Rajesh Ranjan’s residence in Ranchi on Friday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi, Feb. 22: CBI searched the official residence of a Congress MLA in Ranchi today for over three hours and seized a hard disk and some letters, part of ongoing investigations into allegations of horse trading in the 2010 Rajya Sabha elections.
The agency, which conducted similar operations at 13 places across the state yesterday to look into the involvement of as many as five MLAs, including the Congress MLA from Mahagama Rajesh Ranjan, also questioned his private secretary Manibhushan Rao.
“Ranjan was questioned yesterday during raids at his Mahagama residence in Godda district. Today, we raided his residence in Ranchi as it locked yesterday. Our team is scrutinising documents and other material seized during the raids,” said S.K. Bhagat, DIG, CBI (anti corruption branch).
Among the others whose residences were raided are Yogendra Saw (Barkagaon), Sawna Lakra (Khijri), BJP’s Umashankar Akela and JMM’s Simon Marandi..
All five were the subject of a television sting operation wherein they were filmed apparently selling their votes to the highest bidder.
CBI sources said that entries in a 2010 diary seized at Akela’s residence in Ranchi could provide a few leads in this case.
“The case is almost two years old and it was handed over to the agency much after the vigilance bureau messed it up. There are certain entries in the diary of Akela corresponding to the time of the June 2010 Rajya Sabha elections,” a CBI officer said.
On Simon Marandi, whose houses at Littipara were raided yesterday, the sources said that the CBI had found evidence linking him to huge investments in property.
The CBI, which wants to conduct its own investigations rather than continue from where the vigilance bureau left off, is now likely to summon some of the journalists who conducted the sting operation, based on which the probe was ordered.
By the end of the day, Ranjan was issuing statements to the press claiming he voted as per the party line. “I have deposed before the CBI and I am clean. I am being prosecuted without any ground. I had voted for my party candidate. If the CBI is serious about getting to the bottom of the horse trading it should investigate how some managed to win the election with unbelievable vote counts,” he said.