As Ladakh is going to the polls today, a major revelation has come to the fore. The Press Club of Leh has accused the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of bribing reporters to influence the election outcome and shift the narrative in their favour. As per the reports, BJP tried bribing reporters by offering “envelopes filled with money.” A two-page letter, as a part of the complaint, has been signed by several members of the Press club and has been submitted to the Election Commissioner. The letter reads, “BJP leaders state President Ravinder Raina and MLC Vikram Randhawa tried to bribe media persons by offering us money in envelopes as an attempt to use our platform to influence the outcome of the election.”
Speaking to NewsClick, president of Press Club, Leh, Morup Stanzin narrated the sequence of events, “On May 2, around 2 PM, we were attending a press conference at Hotel Singge Palace. At the end of the press conference, as we were leaving, BJP MLC Vikram Randhawa along with BJP president Ravinder Raina gave envelopes to four reporters. When one of the reporters unsealed the envelope, we saw a bundle of 500 rupee notes.” Stanzin said that they were shocked to see how blatantly the right-wing party was bribing them. Shocked and surprised, the reporters outrightly rejected their offer.
We expect @JmuKmrPolice & @SpokespersonECI @ECISVEEP to take cognisance of this complaint filed by the Press Club in Leh pic.twitter.com/FCzVj9VBOj
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) May 4, 2019
Stanzin adds, “When the reporters said that this was wrong, they replied that it is only a token of love. I was also present there. I am a witness to that incident. We were taken aback. When we again said that we don’t need this, they said that ‘yeh toh har jagah chalta hai, ismein nayi baat kya hai? (It happens everywhere, what’s new in this?)’. The reporters kept the envelopes on the table and left the hall. Since then, we all are very dejected. We are journalists, we are not sell-outs that any party will come and bribe us. We are loyal to our service.”
As the journalists are expecting a fair enquiry in the matter, BJP state president Ravinder Raina has denied such allegations and has threatened to file a “defamation suit.” Journalists believe that after the enquiry the reality of the right-wing party will be brought out before everyone. Stanzin said, “They will obviously deny right now. But after enquiry, they won’t be able to deny. This should act as a lesson to everyone. To not keep their hands tied, to speak up and expose them. Humne suna tha elections mei bribe karte hai, aaj dekh bhi liya. (we had only heard that bribing is common during elections but we have seen it today)”
Political commentators believe that this incident has ruptured the high moral grounds of BJP and has shown its true face.
Ahead of polls, NewsClick had reported on Ladakh. After gauging the mood of the people, it has been found that locals in both Kargil and Leh are dejected by the BJP’s “empty rhetoric.” A section of locals believe they have been betrayed by the political parties and now, they would cast their vote for a local face. The largest parliamentary constituency in J&K in terms of area – Ladakh – is casting its vote today. Spread across Leh and Kargil, Ladakh Lok Sabha constituency has 559 polling stations – 294 for Leh and 265 for Kargil, respectively – set up for 1,71,819 voters.
Read More: Elections 2019: Disappointed with BJP, Will Ladakh Vote for A New Face?