Kolkata: Since the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikash Agadi government fell in Maharashtra, it was assumed that Jharkhand would be next in line. Recovery of large amount of cash from Jharkhand’s three Indian National Congress legislators is believed to be part of this conspiracy to topple the Hemant Soren government.
Three legislators, Irfan Ansari, Rajesh Kachchap and Naman Bixal Kongari were travelling on National Highway-16 when they were intercepted at Ranihati in Panchla police station area on Saturday night with cash, by Bengal’s Howrah rural police.
The vehicle which has a nameplate of Jamtara MLA was going towards Jharkhand from West Bengal.
Irfan is the Jamtara MLA, while Kachchap is the legislator of Khijri in Ranchi district, and Kongari is the MLA of Kolebira in Simdega district.
“We had specific input that a huge amount of money was being transported in a black car. We started checking the vehicles and intercepted this SUV in which three Jharkhand MLAs were travelling. A huge amount of cash was found in the vehicle,” said Swati Bhangalia, the superintendent of police of Howrah (Rural) after the haul.
Sources close to Jamtara MLA said that Irfan and other MLAs were paid a token amount to dislodge the JMM-led government in Jharkhand and help install a government in which he would be made the deputy chief minister.
A tribal leader from the party, Congress leaders negotiated, to be installed as the CM.
Irfan had to bring 12 out of 16 legislators from his party. At present there are a total of 16 Congress MLAs in the state. Among them, four are ministers. The breakaway faction was to be named as ‘Jharkhand Congress Party.’
Who is Irfan Ansari?
The 47-year-old leader, a resident of Madhupur is known to be a vocal and ambitious peronality in Jharkhand’s political circle. Irfan, the two time MLA is a Master of Medicine from Ukraine. He is a second-generation politician in the family. His father Furqan Ansari has also been a Member of Parliament (MP) from Godda as well as three times legislator in the Bihar assembly.
He came to national limelight, when Uttar Pradesh Chief minister during the 2019 Jharkhand assembly polls had stated that, “If a Irfan Ansari will win, then Ram Temple will not be built.”
Till the writing of the story, the cash amount was not declared by Bengal police. It was counted using machines. Sources said, all the three MLAs were interrogated separately and their statements did not match with each other.
Congress-TMC claim, ‘It was Operation Lotus’
Soon after the haul, it is not just Trinamool Congress that is being hounded by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) but Congress’s national as well as Jharkhand leaders all are claiming that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has bribed the MLAs to bring down JMM led government.
“Amidst murmurs of horse-trading and the possible toppling of the Jharkhand Govt. 3 @INCJharkhand were found carrying huge sums of cash to Bengal. What is the source of this money? Will any Central Agency take suo moto cognizance? Or do the rules apply to a select few? (sic)” the TMC tweeted.
“It seems to be a conspiracy of the BJP. The BJP has been trying to destabilise the Hemant Soren government since it came to power. If we see what happened in Maharashtra and a few other states, it will be clear that the BJP uses money power to topple governments,” Jharkhand Congress working president Bandhu Tirkey told PTI.
Jairam Ramesh, the Congress spokesperson tweeted in the same line, “The BJP’s ‘Operation Lotus’ in Jharkhand stands exposed tonight 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 (sic).”
However, some supporters who reached the spot where Irfan and other MLAs have been kept for questioning, claimed that the money was to buy clothes, which Jamtara MLA distributes among tribals on August 9, World’s Indigenous Peoples Day. “With this much amount, a government could not be made to fall,” Mohammed Azharuddin, a resident of Jamtara told NDTV.
Significantly, exactly same time last year, there was another such incident in which on the tip off of Congress MLA Anup Singh, a few people, with token money, were arrested in Ranchi by Jharkhand police. Later, one of the MLAs Namal Bixal who has been detained by Bengal Police had claimed that he has been offered Rs one crore by BJP to topple Hemant government.
This time Congress did not delay in taking action and suspended all three MLAs, who are still in Bengal police detention.