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EC seeks explanation from Koda on poll expenses

By Neelabh Srivastava
October 08, 2010 01:04 IST
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The Election Commission has sought an explanation from sitting MP and former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda for alleged discrepancies in poll expenses incurred by him during the 2009 general elections. Koda, who represents the Singbhum parliamentary constituency, was asked by the EC in the show-cause notice issued to him as to why he should not be disqualified from the Lok Sabha in the wake of the huge poll expenditure detected during a IT probe.

The notice was issued by the EC to Koda under the Representation of Peoples Act after investigations by the Income Tax department detected huge expenditure by Koda to the tune of about Rs 7.44 crore for poll related activities as compared to about Rs 18 lakh which he has declared as actual expenses, according to sources. The statutory ceiling for Parliamentary poll candidates in Jharkhand is Rs 25 lakh as per the Election Commission guidelines.

Koda has been asked to reply to the notice and give details of his expenditure in 20 days. The notice has been sent under section 10A of the Representation of Peoples Act which deals with "disqualification for failure to lodge account of election expenses". According to I-T investigations, Koda has allegedly paid Rs 5 crore to a media group for campaign publicity and the money has been paid by Binod Sinha, a Koda associate, who is already in CBI custody for alleged illegal investments and

hawala transactions along with the former chief minister. Another Rs 28 lakh has been allegedly paid to some other media groups in the state for poll publicity but Koda has only pegged his expenditure at Rs 6.90 lakh in this category.

Koda and his poll managers have also allegedly purchased 450 motorbikes of a popular automobile company and few four-wheelers and distributed it to the voters during the campaign in the runup to the 2009 general elections, the I-T probe has claimed. "Considering it as an election malpractice prima facie, the EC has issued the show-cause notice," sources said. Six other candidates, who lost the polls from the same constituency, have also been issued the notices, they said.

Koda, in his poll affidavit, has shown an expense of Rs 1,800 for public meetings, campaign material Rs 3,12,904, campaign through electronic and print media Rs 6,90,430, vehicles used Rs 4,89,009 and other miscellaneous expenditure at Rs 3,98,210. He has also declared receiving around Rs 15 lakh from an individual from Singhbhum (West) for poll related expenses. The I-T department is trying to trace this individual, sources said.

The EC notice comes as an another blow to the former CM, as he is already facing seperate probes by the Enforcement Directorate, Jharkhand Vigilance bureau and the I-T department for alleged illegal investments in India and abroad with the help of his associates.

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Neelabh Srivastava
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