Days after a video of BJP leaders offering envelopes full of money to members of the Leh Press Club went viral, the red-faced saffron party has threatened to sue the journalists who went public with claims of receiving money.
This was after a video on social media went viral showing BJP functionaries offering envelopes to journalists present in the hall. In the video, a woman journalists could be seen opening the envelope before returning it to the organiser. That journalist was Rinchen Angmo, who told The Telegraph, that she had returned the envelope to the BJP leader after she found there was cash in it.
The BJP, for its part, said that the envelopes only carried invitation cards for a rally to be addressed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Threatening to file defamation cases against journalists, one BJP leader said that his party never believed in bribing journalists and held journalists in high esteem.
Meanwhile, Leh Press Club president Morup Stanzin said that not only were the envelopes stashed with several Rs 500 notes but the organisers also told journalists that this was a ‘token of love’ from the BJP.
There are reports that the Election Commission has taken note of the matter, but it’s highly unlikely that the poll body is capable of taking any firm action against the BJP. Leh District Election Officer and Deputy Commissioner Avny Lavasa, according to the Indian Express, ordered the inquiry and found prima facie merits in allegations of bribery. She was quoted as saying, “On Tuesday, we approached the district court through the police, seeking directions for registration of an FIR in the matter. However, the court has not issued any order in the matter so far.”
She said that not only did this violated the Model Code of Conduct, but it also amounted to a criminal offence.
Incidentally, Avny Lavasa is a J&K cadre officer from the 2013 batch of the IAS and the daughter of Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, a former IAS officer himself. Ashok Lavasa recently earned plenty of plaudits for being the only EC to not agree with the other two Commissioners’ decision to not punish Prime Minister Narendra Modi on poll code violations.
Ladakh went to polls on 6 May with BJP’s Tsering, Rigzin Saplbar of Congress, National Conference- PDP supported Sajjad Hussain and independent candidate Asgar Ali Karbalai in the fray.
The counting is scheduled for 23 May.
After Leh journalists’ bribe claim, CCTV clip emerges. BJP says will sue https://t.co/fI2Inm1M7E
Disclaimer: NDTV cannot verify the authenticity of the ‘bribe’ video pic.twitter.com/sF9RrV4tk9
— NDTV (@ndtv) May 8, 2019