ECI orders FIR against Minister

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Raipur, Nov 19 (UNI) The Election Commission of India (ECI) has directed registering of a first information report (FIR) against Chhattisgarh Tourism, Culture, Forests and Sports Minister Brijmohan Agrawal, who is the Bharatiya Janata Party's Raipur South candidate, in the wake of the main opposition Congress releasing a compact disc (CD) allegedly featuring Mr Agrawal giving some money to a person during campaigning.

State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Alok Shukla said here this evening that the directive to file the FIR was issued after the Congress lodged a formal complaint with the ECI along with the CD.

''The complaint will be registered under Section 171(b) of the Representation of the People Act,'' he added. The CEO and other officials also viewed the CD.

Earlier, Raipur North's Congress nominee Yogesh Tiwari released the CD before media at the Congress state office. The CD allegedly features Mr Agrawal giving money to a person while the candidate and his supporters were passing a bustling marketplace. The CD is of about 30 seconds' duration but neither shows the date nor timing of the recording.

Mr Agrawal is believed to be the second-in-command after Chief Minister Raman Singh.

Chhattisgarh is know for 'CD politics'. In the 2003 assembly polls, a BJP leader was caught on camera while accepting money and later an audio CD of the then Chief Minister Ajit Jogi was also released. Earlier this month a similar CD was released against a Congress nominee and an FIR registered.

Meanwhile, in a fax to ECI, Chhattisgarh Congress Campaign Committee Convenor Jogi alleged that Mr Agrawal forced a cable operator and even news channels not to show clippings of the CD.

In the complaint dispatched tonight to Deputy Election Commissioner J P Prakash and the Central Observer, Raipur South, Mr Jogi said that the CD proved that the Minister violated election norms and was now attempting to misuse his influence to stifle the Fourth Estate's voice. He alleged that Mr Agrawal was caught on camera distributing currency notes of Rs 500 denomination to voters.

UNI MB AC 2046

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