Leh district election officer and deputy commissioner Avny Lavasa has ordered an inquiry into reports that BJP leaders in Jammu and Kashmir handed over cash in envelopes to mediapersons to favour the party ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. [Ladakh went to polls in the fifth phase Monday].
The Indian Express reported that a ‘fact-finding inquiry’ found prima facie merit in the allegations.
Avny Lavasa said: “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 though the complaints filed an alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct by BJP leaders, it amounted to a criminal offence.
Avny Lavasa, a J&K cadre officer from the 2013 batch of the IAS, is the daughter of Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, a former IAS officer himself. The latter was in news recently for having dissented the various clean chits to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.
The newspaper reported that the Leh Press Club had lodged separate complaints with the District Election Officer and SHO, Leh, accusing senior BJP leaders including its J&K president Ravinder Raina and MLC Vikram Randhawa of bribing mediapersons at a press conference on May 2 to shift the poll narrative in their favour.
Raina denied the allegations. He said the envelopes, which party leaders including Randhawa had given to mediapersons at their May 2 press conference in Leh, contained invitation cards for a public rally to be addressed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman after two days.