Five people, including three Jharkhand Congress MLAs, who were detained in Howrah with a huge amount of cash in their vehicle, have been arrested, the police said on Sunday, ANI reported.
The Howrah district court sent them to police remand for 10 days. The investigation has been taken over by Criminal Investigation Department.
“CID has put charges against them under the prevention of corruption act, we raised questions on the applicability of these charges, the court rejected the bail plea,” said Saya Mitra, who is representing a Congress MLA.
The Congress party on Sunday suspended three of its MLAs – Irfan Ansari, Rajesh Kachchap and Naman Bixal Kongari.
They were intercepted by the West Bengal Police on National Highway-16 at the Ranihati area of the district on Saturday.
Bhangalia said that the police had received specific inputs about money being transported in a black car on the highway.
“We started checking the vehicles, and intercepted this car in which the three MLAs were travelling,” Bhangalia said, according to PTI. “Cash counting machines are being brought in to ascertain the total amount. The MLAs are also being questioned about the source of the money and where it was being taken to.”
The police said that besides the MLAs, two other persons were also present in the car. While Ansari is the MLA of Jamtara, Kachchap is the legislator of Khijri in Ranchi district, and Kongari is the MLA of Kolebira in Simdega district of Jharkhand.
On Sunday, the Congress party alleged that the money was part of a conspiracy by the Bharatiya Janata Party to topple its coalition government in Jharkhand.
The Congress is part of an alliance with Hemant Soren-led Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Rashtriya Janata Dal in the state.
“In the states where the BJP cannot manage to come into power, it tries all sort of tactics,” Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said during a press conference. “You can see its example in Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa and now in Jharkhand. The BJP sets an example of its low-level politics every month.”
On Saturday, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh alleged that BJP’s ‘Operation Lotus’ in Jharkhand was exposed due to the arrest by the West Bengal Police in Howrah.
“The game plan of ‘Hum Do’ in Delhi is to do in Jharkhand what they did in Maharashtra by installing E-D duo,” Ramesh had said.
Operation Lotus is a term used to refer to the BJP’s alleged plan to orchestrate the defections of seven Opposition legislators after the 2008 Karnataka Assembly elections.
Jharkhand Congress president Rajesh Thakur alleged that the conspiracy to topple the state was being hatched in BJP-ruled Assam.
“It has now become evident that the BJP, for a long time, is trying to topple the governments in non-BJP states,” Thakur said, according to The Indian Express. “None of the culprits will be spared…It seems they are preparing to topple the government during the monsoon session.”
Meanwhile, the BJP refuted the allegations by Congress saying its MLAs have to explain the source of the money.
“Congress party has a habit of levelling baseless allegations against others to sweep their own mistakes under the carpet,” Union minister Arjun Munda said, according to ANI.