The Congress on Sunday alleged the Bharatiya Janata Party was trying to topple the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-led government in Jharkhand by offering Rs 10 crore to each MLA, and lodged a police complaint against its three legislators arrested in West Bengal's Howrah with a huge amount of cash.
Acting on a tip-off, the West Bengal Police on Saturday evening intercepted a sports utility vehicle in which Congress MLAs -- Irfan Ansari, Rajesh Kachchap and Naman Bixal Kongari -- were travelling, and allegedly found nearly half a crore of rupees in cash in the vehicle.
After questioning, they were formally arrested on Sunday afternoon.
Rejecting the Congress charge, BJP spokesperson Syed Zafar Islam in Delhi accused the grand old party of shifting the blame for its own legislators' wrong-doing and made the counter-claim that Jharkhand has become a "den of corruption".
Addressing a press conference at Ranchi, Congress minister Alamgir Alam earlier in the day said the party's Bermo MLA Kumar Jaimangal has lodged a police complaint against the three legislators for allegedly luring other MLAs by offering Rs 10 crore each and a ministerial berth to help the BJP form a government in the state.
"Rajesh Kachchap and Naman Bixal Kongari were asking me to come to Kolkata and were offering money, promising Rs 10 crore per MLA. Ifran Ansari and Rajesh Kachchap wanted to take me to Guwahati from Kolkata where according to them a meeting was fixed with Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma," Jaimangal claimed.
After filing the complaint at the Argora police station in Ranchi, he claimed that he has sought action against the three MLAs under Section 7(C) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and IPC Section 120 (B), which deals with criminal conspiracy.
He said he has urged the police to check criminal activities detrimental to the health of democracy.
An officer of the Argora police station said since the cash was recovered in West Bengal, they were transferring the matter to the neighbouring state.
The Congress, which is a part of the JMM-led government in Jharkhand along with Lalu Prasad's RJD, has already suspended the three MLAs.
Senior BJP leader Babulal Marandi said the Congress has conspired to defame his party by filing a false police complaint to hide its own sins.
"This is shameful and ridiculous. They do not trust their own MLAs. They are trying to hide the corruptions and misdeeds of their MLAs," said Marandi, a former chief minister.
The Bengal police officers said the three MLAs and two other persons, including their driver, were arrested after they failed to answer the police the reason for carrying Rs 49 lakh in cash while travelling in a SUV on National Highway 16 through Howrah district, near Kolkata.
"They could not explain the reason for carrying such a huge amount of cash. We are not satisfied by their claim that they came here to purchase sarees meant to be distributed among tribal women. We have arrested them for further investigation," the officer told PTI.
The state CID has taken over the investigation from the Howrah Rural police, he said.
The five persons, including the MLAs, have been booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, including that for criminal conspiracy, and the Prevention of Corruption Act, he said.
However, the BJP spokesperson Islam pointed out that officials linked to Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren had been nabbed for suspected corruption after a recent probe by the Enforcement Directorate, and now the entire country has seen three Congress MLAs travelling to Bengal with a large amount of cash.
"The Congress has been exposed again. Corruption has reached huge proportions in Jharkhand. The state government has been frequently involved in graft and the state has become a den of corruption," he alleged.