JAMMU The BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir unit will set up a committee to probe the allegation that some party leaders tried to bribe journalists to influence parliamentary polls, party’s state unit chief Ravinder Raina said Wednesday, even as a legislator named in the matter claimed the envelopes given to scribes had invitations and not money.
Raina also said he will file a defamation case against the Press Club Leh for naming him in the bribery complaint, which he termed as “politically motivated”
“There will be a probe into it. We will set up a committee to probe the allegation of scribes of Leh,” he said.
Raina said that he is moving an application in Jammu and Kashmir High Court seeking narco-test of the scribes and BJP leaders including him. “If anybody from the party is found involved, he will be dealt severely,” the state BJP president said.
Raina said that the committee will submit its report after visiting Leh, where it will talk to journalists and others and review the CCTV footage.
On Saturday, the Press Club Leh had accused the BJP of trying to bribe its members by offering “envelopes filled with money” after a press conference, a charge denied by the party.
A two-page letter signed by several members of the Press Club was circulating on social media, seeking an FIR against Raina and MLC Vikram Randhawa for allegedly trying to bribe journalists. A CCTV footage of the alleged incident also came to light.
Raina, however, questioned the claim of the journalists saying why was the money not shown in the CCTV footage.
“They should have shown the notes after opening the packets. They had camera too,” he said.
“The press conference was held on May 2 and they could have shown it on the same day. Only on May 4 it came out in social media as a planned conspiracy to defame BJP,” Raina said.
“It is politically motivated. I will go for defamation. My name has been mentioned in the complaint. I had already left with three scribes for interview with DD and Air Leh,” he said.
Meanwhile, BJP MLC Vikram Randhawa denied the bribery charge and alleged the episode was the handiwork of anti-party elements in Kashmir which were sponsored by the Congress.
All allegations of Leh journalists are baseless and misleading. It was supported by ‘anti-BJP elements in Kashmir’ and Congress to malign the image of the party, Randhawa, who is the party’s Ladakh incharge, said.
The CCTV grab being circulated on the social media is of the invitation envelopes being given to reporters for the coverage of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to Leh on May 4. This is being shown as if money is being given to them, the MLC claimed.
He said that some media persons opened the envelopes and returned them saying they don’t need special invitation as they were already covering the event.
Omar, Congress seek action
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah Wednesday said action must be taken in the alleged bribery of journalists by BJP leaders in Leh in Jammu and Kashmir.
“In light of the CCTV footage purported to show BJP leaders attempting to bribe journalists in Leh, I’m retweeting my original tweet with the letter of complaint by the Press Club Leh. Action must follow,” Abdullah said in a tweet.
The former chief minister was reacting to emergence of a CCTV footage from a hotel in Leh where several BJP leaders, including the party’s state president Ravindra Raina, could be seen distributing envelopes among journalists.
The Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) urged the Election Commission of India (ECI) to take strong note of the alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct in Ladakh Parliamentary Constituency.
The party asked the ECI to initiative action against BJP State President for attempting to bribe Leh reporters and intimidating them in the backdrop of the exposure of this corrupt practice.
A JKPCC spokesperson said ECI must initiate action against the violation of MCC by BJP and Zanaskar Buddhist and Zanaskar Gonpa Associations, who have threatened the people of social boycott in case they would not vote in favour of BJP, which is indicative of BJPs frustration and clear violation of MCC.
He said the local polling officers have not even allowed the polling agents of other parties to enter booths, allowing BJP to capture scores of booths in Zanaskar, which has also been reported to Chief Electoral Officer of J&K.
Referring to the attempting to bribe Leh reporters by BJP State President, the spokesperson said the Returning Officer has also written to CEO in this regard, but no action seems to have been taken so far.