A Congress legislator from suburban Mumbai was recently cheated of several lakhs by a man who claimed he was close to Rahul Gandhi.
The deal was apparently struck after the conman promised the MLA a ministerial berth in the anticipated reshuffle in the Maharashtra cabinet.
While the MLA in question, Kandivli legislator Ramesh Singh Thakur, denied that he had ever paid anybody or sought a ministerial position, sources in Rahul Gandhi’s office said the party has taken a serious view of the matter and has ordered an internal inquiry.
According to Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee office-bearers, some time in October, a man identified only as Mishra approached Thakur and promised him a ministerial berth when the cabinet reshuffle in the state government takes place. Thakur, a four-term municipal corporator, is serving his first term as a Member of the Legislative Assembly.
After a sum to the tune of several lakhs changed hands, Thakur found out that he’d been cheated.
Thakur, a major player in the realty and transportation industries, then approached Rahul Gandhi’s office, said Congress sources. When contacted, Thakur denied that such an incident ever took place. “Somebody is trying to malign me. I did not pay anybody any money,” said Thakur.
A source in Rahul Gandhi’s office, however, confirmed that they were contacted by the MLA, who was asked to hand in a written complaint. Expectedly, Thakur is yet to comply.
“In the past too, it has been made clear to partymen that they should report anybody demanding money on behalf of Rahul Gandhi,” said the source. “There is no question of anyone in our office promising ministerial berths and accepting money in return.” The matter has been taken very seriously, he said.
Mohan Prakash, AICC general secretary, in charge of Maharashtra, and Manikrao Thakre, MPCC president, have been asked to inquire into the incident.
MPCC sources said the inquiry is likely to achieve little since the MLA can hardly make an official admission to Thakre and Prakash that the incident occurred.