A journalist body in Ladakh has accused the BJP of "trying to bribe reporters for favourable coverage" to influence the national elections in the constituency which votes on Monday in the fifth phase.
An inquiry has been ordered by the district election officer after a complaint was filed by the Press Club Leh (Ladakh) against the BJP.
In its complaint, the journalist body accused BJP state president Ravinder Raina of trying to bribe journalists on Thursday at Hotel Singge Palace in Leh where he was addressing a press conference. "After the press conference was over, BJP leaders including state president Ravinder Raina and member of legislative council Vikram Randhawa tried to bribe the reporters by offering money in envelopes in an attempt to use our platform to influence the outcome of elections," reads the complaint.
"We didn't accept the offer and we were anguished at such an attempt," the complaint further reads. The letter has accused the BJP of violating poll code and urged action against the party leaders.
Leh Press Club member Rinchen Angmo, one of the journalists who the party leaders allegedly tried to bribe, claimed that a senior party leader handed over envelopes to four journalists, including her, in front of state BJP chief. The leader urged them not to open the envelopes in the hall, she said.
"I got suspicious and opened it. I found some 500 rupee notes inside the envelope. I returned it to him but he refused to take it; I kept it (envelope) on a table," she said.
A BJP leader said there was no truth in the claims. "We don't believe in bribing anybody. We hold journalists in high esteem. BJP has never done such a thing and we will never do it," he said.
An inquiry has been ordered by the district election officer, Anvy Lavasa. "We are conducting a summary inquiry; if required, we will file a police complaint," a senior election officer said.
Ladakh is witnessing a four-cornered contest between BJP's Tsering, Rigzin Saplbar of Congress, Sajjad Hussain backed by the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party, and independent candidate Asgar Ali Karbalai.
The Muslim community enjoys a slender majority in Ladakh but both Congress and BJP have fielded Buddhist candidates.
The BJP had won Ladakh in 2014 elections by defeating Congress candidate by a mere 36 votes. The party, however, suffered a setback after MP Thupstan Chhewang resigned from the BJP in November. Several other leaders from Ladakh also left the party.
Fifty one constituencies across seven states will vote on Monday in the fifth phase of national elections; votes will be counted on May 23.