In an unprecedented move, the Election Commission countermanded the elections for two Rajya Sabha seats from Jharkhand on Friday - the same day the poll was held - on the ground that ''horse trading'' was involved.
The first alarm bell for the Election Commission (EC) came in the morning of the day of polling, when a car carrying Rs2.5 crore in cash was apprehended in the state capital Ranchi by income tax authorities. The car allegedly belonged to the brother of an independent candidate.
After two marathon meetings lasting through Friday, the EC was convinced that large-scale horse trading had in fact taken place. The meeting was held amid complaints by several political parties that money power was being used for the polls.
"The Commission is satisfied that the current election process for Rajya Sabha election from Jharkhand has been seriously vitiated and cannot be permitted to proceed," the three-member EC headed by chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi said in a 12-page order.
In its communication to the returning officers of the assemblies of Jharkhand, the poll panel had asked them to submit detailed and comprehensive reports on the conduct of polls on Friday with special reference to any untoward incident immediately after the voting.
The EC found from the returning officer of Jharkhand that out of the 81 members in the state assembly, 79 cast their votes but three voters, Vishnu Bhaiya of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, K N Tripathi of the Congress, and Suresh Pashwan of the Rashtriya Janata Dal showed their ballot papers to persons other than their respective party agents, violating the prescribed voting procedure, the poll panel said.