BJP MLA Ganesh Joshi in cash-for-votes row

The Uttarakhand MLA seen was seen bribing voters in a video ahead of urban local body polls

By Piyush Srivastava in Lucknow
  • Published 17.11.18, 12:26 PM
  • Updated 17.11.18, 12:26 PM
  • 2 mins read
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Ganesh Joshi had shot to limelight in March 2016 when he was accused of beating a 14-year-old police horse, Shaktiman, with a club at the Rispana Crossing in Dehradun Source: Twitter

The Uttarakhand state election commission has sought an explanation from a BJP MLA after the Congress, armed with a video clip, accused him of bribing voters ahead of Sunday’s municipal elections in the hill state.

The video purportedly shows Mussoorie MLA Ganesh Joshi holding a wad of cash and handing a 100-rupee note each to women applying tilak to his forehead.

Joshi told reporters he was merely observing a Chhath tradition and accused the Congress of fabricating a controversy out of a “non-issue”.

“I will reply to the election commission. It’s a Hindu tradition to give a token sum as shagun (auspicious gift) during festivals to those who apply tilak on our foreheads,” he said.

“I was not handing out any big amount, just Rs 100 or Rs 50. Nobody would vote for us in return for such a small sum.”

He didn’t reply when reporters argued that a shagun could be anything — just Re 1 or some flowers or fruits, which would have been more fitting with the model code of conduct in place.

State Congress president Pritam Singh said: “We have learnt that BJP members had spread the news across the district that women who apply tilak to Joshi’s forehead and promise to vote for their candidates would be given Rs 100.”

A commission source confirmed that the poll panel had issued a notice to Joshi on the basis of a complaint from Congress members who had submitted a video clip.

Pramod Kumar Singh, state Congress disciplinary committee chief, had met state election commissioner Chandrashekhar Bhatt along with other party members on Thursday.

“We found a video filmed in Ward No. 6 of Dehradun, where the MLA had gone on November 12 to bribe women in the name of Chhath shagun,” Pramod said.

State BJP president Ajay Bhatt defended Joshi, saying: “We cannot shift the dates of our festivals even if there is polling around the corner.”

Joshi had shot to limelight in March 2016 when he was accused of beating a 14-year-old police horse, Shaktiman, with a club at the Rispana Crossing in Dehradun. The horse, which was part of a police barricade against a BJP procession, died a little over a month later.

The then Harish Rawat government installed a statue of Shaktiman at the site and renamed the crossing after the horse.

Elections will be held to 84 urban local bodies on November 18, and the results will be announced on November 20.