Expelled Rashtriya Lok Samata Party leader Pradeep Mishra on Tuesday alleged that party chief Upendra Kushwaha took Rs 90 lakh for allotting him a ticket to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, a charge denied by his former boss, as the two leaders demanded a CBI probe into the matter.
At a press meet in Patna, Mr Mishra, who was last week sacked from the post of RLSP national general secretary for alleged anti-party activities, provided details of the purported bank account in which he allegedly deposited the amount in two equal instalments for contesting the polls from the East Champaran seat.
The RLSP has not formally announced its candidates for the Lok Sabha polls, even as internal parleys continue to decide the names.
Mr Mishra announced he would join the ruling JD(U) shortly. He was accompanied by the party's former national working president Nagmani, who was ousted last month, and a host of other former RLSP leaders.
"Today I am going to carry out a surgical strike on RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha, who had taken Rs 90 lakh from me in two equal instalments in a State Bank of India account, Parliament House, New Delhi, on December 12, 2018 for giving me the ticket from the East Champaran constituency," Mr Mishra said.
The matter should be investigated by the CBI, he demanded.
When reminded that bribing for an election ticket was a crime, Mr Mishra did a U-turn, clarifying he had given the money for "running the party". He said he could explain the sources of his income and expenditure to the income tax department, if asked to do so.
"On an earlier occasion, I had given Rs 55 lakh through a demand draft to Kushwaha for organising a rally at Gandhi Maidan in October 2017. That apart, I have spent Rs 10 to Rs 15 crore for other party activities," he claimed.
The former RLSP leader alleged he had also borne the expenditure for Mr Kushwaha and his family's trips to Dubai, Malaysia and Singapore.
"Kushwaha, during his tenure as Union Minister of State for HRD, acquired properties, both in India and abroad, and I can produce the documents in public," Mr Mishra said, adding he would approach the Election Commission and lodge an FIR in the matter, if needed.
Asked about the sources of Mr Mishra's income, Nagmani said the former RLSP national secretary, once considered a close aide of Kushwaha, is a big businessman and can provide his income details to the I-T department.
Nagmani, who seconded Mr Mishra's charges, also said Mr Kushwaha once told him that Madhav Anand, the party's national general secretary and spokesman, had contributed Rs 9 crore to the party.
"He told me that Anand shelled out Rs 9 crore for him, something that I could not never afford to do," the former Union minister added.
Claiming that a 100 per cent of ''Kushwaha'' electors will vote for Nitish Kumar and the NDA, he also said that all the leaders, who have quit the RLSP, will join the JD(U) unconditionally.
"If the Karakat seat, which is currently represented by Kushwaha, is given to me (by the Nitish Kumar-led party), then the RLSP chief's security deposit would be forfeited," he asserted.
Mr Kushwaha, on his part, said he would not mind a CBI probe into the allegations as it would help people learn the truth.
"I am grateful to my elder brother Nagmani ji who has also demanded a CBI probe to get to the truth. I fully endorse his demand for a CBI probe. Please do a favour by getting the matter recommended by the chief minister (Nitish Kumar) with whom he has developed good relations," Mr Kushwaha said in a video posted on his Twitter handle.
The RLSP quit the NDA in December last year to join the opposition Grand Alliance in Bihar, partnering the Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Hindustan Awam Morcha.
Nagmani was expelled from the post of RLSP national working president on February 8 for sharing dais with Nitish Kumar on two occasions, once for the celebration of his father Jagdev Prasad's birth anniversary and the second time during the unveiling of Prasad's statue in Patna.