The Congress has asked the Election Commission to conduct an independent investigation into activist-turned-politician Irom Sharmila’s bribery allegations against a Bharatiya Janata Party leader. Last week, Sharmila had alleged that BJP leader Sur Vinod had offered her Rs 36 crore to contest the upcoming elections on his party ticket, DNA reported.

In a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and other senior EC officials, the Congress asked the body to “collect entire material and evidence and prosecute persons found responsible for such offer of bribe for electoral purposes”.

On Tuesday, Sharmila reiterated her allegations, saying Vinod had told her that the BJP had selected her to be a party candidate. “They put a condition requiring average 36 crores...they said if I have the sum, I needed to produce it and if not, it will come from Centre,” she alleged, according to NDTV. “He said he has already contacted BJP President Amit Shah in this matter.”

However, senior BJP leader Ram Madhav denied the allegations, saying no party worker had “ever met her or offered that much money to her”. “Let me tell you, our entire Manipur campaign doesn’t cost that much,” he said, adding that new entrants to politics should “fight respectfully”.

At least 215 candidates have filed their nomination papers from 38 constituencies for the first phase of the elections, which will be on March 4, PTI reported.