ED must first probe how BJP won crucial seats in U.P. , Goa: Sena leader Raut 

Battle for Kolhapur North Assembly bypoll intensifies after BJP threatens to demand agency probe into Congress’ ‘bribery’

April 05, 2022 03:23 pm | Updated 03:23 pm IST - Pune

Sanjay Raut

Sanjay Raut | Photo Credit: VIVEK BENDRE

After the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Maharashtra unit president Chandrakant Patil accused the Congress of bribing voters ahead of the Kolhapur North Assembly by-poll and warned that he would urge the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to investigate, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut lambasted Mr. Patil and dared him to first ask the ED to probe how the BJP won crucial seats in neighbouring Goa as well as in Assembly elections in other States like Uttar Pradesh.

Mr. Raut, the Sena’s chief spokesperson, said Mr. Patil ought to first urge the ED to inquire how the BJP won the seats of Panaji and Sanquelim in the recently concluded Goa Assembly election.

Rebel candidate Utpal Parrikar -son of late BJP stalwart Manohar Parrikar - had lost narrowly in Panaji to the BJP’s Atanasio Monserrate (by a little over 700 votes) while Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant just scraped through the Sanquelim contest (his victory margin being a mere 666 votes) with the Congress’ Dharmesh Saglani giving Mr. Sawant a run for his money.

“BJP State president Chandrakant Patil has warned of putting the ED behind voters of Kolhapur who were allegedly taking bribes from the Congress. My point is why only Kolhapur North [Assembly constituency]? Maharashtra can wait…Why not put the ED to probe the Panaji and Sanquelim constituencies in Goa and some constituencies in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal? We would welcome an ED probe into how Utpal Parrikar was defeated,” said Mr. Raut.

As the contest for the Kolhapur north Assembly by-poll to be held on April 12 heats up, the BJP is intensifying its verbal campaign against its principal challenger – the Congress.

Mr. Patil had threatened to write to the ED to ask the central agency to probe the the alleged transfer of ₹1,000 into the each of the voters’ accounts in the Kolhapur North Assembly while claiming that the funds were being transferred online. The BJP State chief had also alleged that a large number of college students were being deployed by the Congress to collect bank details of voters to this end.

The bypoll has turned into a prestige fight between the BJP leader and senior Congressman and Minister of State for Home Satej ‘Bunty’ Patil, who is credited with reviving the Congress’ sagging fortunes in Kolhapur district.

The byelection has been necessitated following the demise of sitting Congress MLA Chandrakant Jadhav in December last year.

The Congress has fielded the late MLA’s wife, Jayashree Jadhav while the BJP has nominated Satyajit Kadam as their candidate.

Mr. Jadhav had won the Kolhapur North seat by defeating the Shiv Sena candidate Rajan Kshirsagar in the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly election when the Sena and the BJP were still allies.

Mr. Kshirsagar had held the seat twice for the Sena – in 2009 and in the 2014 Assembly election and Kolhapur North was considered a Sena bastion at a time when the party had few pockets of influence outside Mumbai city, Thane and parts of the Konkan region in Maharashtra. But now that the Congress and the Shiv Sena are ruling allies in the State, the latter, after much wrangling, was forced to concede the seat to the Congress for the bypoll.

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