Election Watch: Did BJP try to bribe the press in Leh? Watch this video and decide

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PW Bureau

In the footage, BJP legislator Vikram Randhawa can be seen handing out envelopes to journalists in the presence of Raina, as has been alleged by journalists

Srinagar: A new video, which has emerged shortly after a group of journalists in Jammu and Kashmir’s Leh accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of bribing the press to get favourable coverage before the region voted in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, has added fuel to fire and given ammunition to the Opposition. The video, whose authenticity is yet to be verified, shows envelopes being distributed by a senior BJP leader at a press conference held last week.

The complaint was filed last week

On Friday, members of the Press Club in Leh had written to the local election officer accusing BJP’s state unit chief Ravinder Raina of trying to bribe journalists at Hotel Singge Palace where he had addressed a press conference the day before. Rinchen Angmo, one of the journalists, claimed that a senior BJP leader had handed over envelopes to four journalists, including her, in front of the state BJP chief.

“When we asked what is in the envelope, they told us not to open it then and that it is a token of love. When I checked, I saw many Rs 500 notes. I returned it to them. But they refused to take it back. So I kept it on the table,” Angmo said.

What does the CCTV footage show?

In the footage, BJP legislator Vikram Randhawa can be seen handing out envelopes to journalists in the presence of Raina, as has been alleged by journalists. The video also shows Angmo leaving her envelope on the table.

BJP denies allegations

The BJP has denied the allegations and has said that the legislator was handing out invites to journalists for Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s rally in the region. The party has also said that it will sue journalists for defamation.

Election officials initiate steps to file an FIR

Election officials have initiated steps to file a First Information Report (FIR) after conducting a probe at their end. The complaint has now been sent to the local court. District election officer Avny Lavasa said that officials are now waiting for court directions to file an FIR.

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