Clean chit for Ajit Pawar and Chandrakant Patil in alleged MCC violation plaint 

The Sharad Pawar-led NCP (SP) faction had filed a complaint with the ECI against Ajit Pawar and Chandrakant Patil for alleged violation of the MCC

Updated - April 27, 2024 04:25 pm IST

Published - April 27, 2024 02:02 am IST - Pune

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar | Photo Credit: PTI

Electoral officials in the Baramati Lok Sabha constituency have absolved Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar, along with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Chandrakant Patil of violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).

Earlier this month, the rival Sharad Pawar-led NCP (SP) faction had filed a complaint with the Election Commission of India (ECI) against Mr. Ajit Pawar, Mr. Patil, and Mr. Chavan, alleging the violation of the MCC and the Representation of the People Act.

The complaint against Ajit Pawar concerned an election rally at Indapur (part of Baramati Lok Sabha constituency) where Mr. Pawar, who is the State’s Finance Minister, was reportedly heard saying that he would feel good allocating funds only if the EVM button was pressed in abundance. The Sharad Pawar-led NCP had taken the remark to mean that Ajit would release funds only if his (ruling Mahayuti’s) candidate were to be elected.

“As far as funds are concerned, we will cooperate to give you as much as you want, but at the same time, the EVM button needs to be pressed in abundance. If the EVM button is pressed many times, I will feel good allocating funds, or else, I will have to restrict myself,” Mr. Ajit Pawar remarked at the rally, while campaigning for his wife Sunetra Pawar, who is pitted against incumbent Baramati MP Supriya Sule – the candidate of the NCP (SP) and the Opposition MVA.

Mr. Patil, while campaigning for Sunetra Pawar (BJP being an ally of Ajit Pawar’s NCP in the Mahayuti) at a rally in Purandar had said, “Don’t forget Ajit Pawar is the Finance Minister. He has the key to the [treasury] vault and CM Eknath Shinde has the vault. People should remember that both the vault and key both belong to us [ruling Mahayuti] and only we can fulfil our commitments towards voters.”

However, the returning officer of the Baramati Lok Sabha constituency, after probing the complaint, said there was no prima facie evidence of both Ajit Pawar and Chandrakant Patil violating the MCC through their ‘funds for votes’ and ‘treasury’ remarks as alleged by the NCP (SP).

Kavita Dwivedi, returning officer of Baramati, said she had submitted a report to the Chief Election Officer (CEC) where she said she had scrutinised the video clip of Mr. Ajit Pawar’s speech and that there was no violation of the MCC.

“The remarks made [by Ajit Pawar] in the video do not mention the name of any candidate for whom votes have been sought. I have found that prima facie there is no violation of the code of conduct. Ajit Pawar is heard saying ‘press the button,’ however, he does not specify any candidate’s name for the votes sought. Accordingly, I have submitted my report to the Chief Election Officer of Maharashtra and the District Officer for further processing,” Ms. Dwivedi said.

Pune District election officer Suhas Diwase also confirmed that the Baramati returning officer [Ms. Dwivedi] in her report had stated that there was no violation of the Model Code of Conduct in the case.

The keenly contested Baramati battle where the prestige of both the rival NCP factions led by Sharad Pawar and his nephew, Mr. Ajit Pawar are at stake, go to vote in the third phase on May 7.

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