In the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha poll, the politics surrounding allegations of embezzlement of crores of rupees recovered by the Punjab police from a Christian priest and his associates has gained impetus with the Opposition parties alleging that it has been done in connivance with the ruling Congress and that the money could be used to influence voters.A day after the police ordered an inquiry into the allegations levelled by Anthony Madassery, a priest at a church in Jalandhar’s Partappura village, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Shiromani Akali Dal have expressed concern over the allegations against the police and demanded an independent probe.Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Harpal Singh Cheema said given the fact that the allegation of embezzlement has been levelled against the police, the State government should immediately hand over the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation.CBI probe sought“How can we expect a fair probe by the police against its own personnel? The probe should be handed over to the CBI. With Lok Sabha election round the corner, we fear that this embezzled amount could be used to influence voters,” Mr. Cheema said.The Khanna police had last week said it had seized ₹9.66 crore in “black money” from six persons, including the priest, during checking of vehicles at a checkpoint on G.T. Road at Doraha. However, the next day the priest accused the police of showing only ₹9.66 crore, instead of the ₹16.65 crore seized, and claimed the cash was accounted for.Meanwhile, SAD has urged the Chief Election Commissioner to order an independent probe into the misappropriation, alleging that “it seemed to have happened with the connivance of the Congress and could be used to influence voters”.CEC action soughtSenior SAD leader and former Education Minister Daljit Singh Cheema said the party has submitted a memorandum to the Punjab CEO Karuna Raju, urging that the matter be forwarded to the CEC for action. “Father Anthony Madassery’s statement that ₹16.32 crore was seized by the Khanna police but only ₹9.66 crore was shown as recovery has raised serious questions over the functioning of the police. We have reasons to believe that the remaining amount has been misappropriated at the instance of the ruling Congress party and would be used to influence voters,” said Mr. Cheema.