States

Ahead of polls, BJP inducts Pune gangster Vitthal Shelar

On Tuesday, sources confirmed that the BJP inducted gangster Vitthal Shelar on December 30 in the presence of Pune Guardian Minister Girish Bapat in Mulshi Taluk.

Shelar’s inclusion has worried party members concerned with maintaining the ‘clean’ image of the BJP, which is pulling out all stops to seize control of the municipal corporations of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad in the upcoming civic polls.

In October 2016, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis found himself in a tight spot after a photograph of him with Pune gangster Kamlakar Kisan alias Baba Bodke went viral. Mr. Fadnavis played down the incident and denied knowing Bodke personally. At the time, Mr. Bapat said that “the BJP would deny entry to any individual who could tarnish the party’s image.”

Yet in Mr. Bapat’s presence, Shelar, who has a string of cases against him, including murder, attempted robbery and abduction, was inducted and appointed as the party’s youth wing chief in the Bhor-Velhe-Mulshi area.

Shelar was infamous for being associated with criminal Kishore Marne. The Marne-Shelar gang waged a protracted war, which ended in 2010 with the murder of their rival Sanjay alias Pintu Marne, the vice-president of the NCP’s Kothrud Assembly unit.

Out on bail

The Pune rural police arrested Shelar and his accomplice Rohit Vairat in February 2013 and seized two country-made pistols and an SUV from their possession. In 2013, the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act was invoked against Shelar. The Bombay High Court granted him bail in August last year.

In October last year, even as the Bodke photo scandal was unfolding, three other persons with criminal cases against them — Dinesh Dhadave, Pappu Gholap and Shyam Shinde — were inducted into the party ranks by the BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Kakade. Mr. Kakade defended the move by stating that they could not be termed criminals as the cases had been quashed against them by courts.


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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 3:31:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/states/Ahead-of-polls-BJP-inducts-Pune-gangster-Vitthal-Shelar/article17020346.ece

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