BJP's Minister Babanrao Lonikar was caught on camera purportedly saying he faces no problem in winning the upcoming Assembly polls since he has "distributed cash." While BJP has questioned the authenticity of the video featuring the Maharashtra Minister, the Congress party has sought cancellation of his candidature from the Maharashtra assembly polls in a petition to the Election Commission (EC).
The Congress party has accused the BJP leader of violating the Model Code of Conduct in force ahead of the October 21 elections in Maharashtra. State Congress vice-president Ratnakar Mahajan, in a letter to the ECI, said Lonikar is heard on camera saying at an election rally in Jalna that he has no problem in winning the Maharashtra assembly elections since he has "distributed money."
"This proves that the minister is using corrupt means to get elected. The ECI should file a case of violation of the model code of conduct against the minister and cancel his candidature immediately," Mahajan said. He also attached a link of the minister's speech in his letter to the Chief Electoral Officer.
Meanwhile, defending the BJP leader involved in 'cash for votes' controversy, the state BJP chief spokesperson Madhav Bhandari has asked Congress to follow a proper procedure instead of levelling charges against the leader. "The Congress party can file a complaint with the Election Commission which will first verify the alleged clip. Proper procedure should be followed rather than leveling allegations against a candidate. We will welcome the outcome," Bhandari said.
Lonikar, who holds the water supply portfolio, is the BJP candidate from Partur in Jalna district of central Maharashtra.
In the saffron alliance, BJP will be contesting on 150 seats, and Shiv Sena will fight on 124 seats in Maharashtra. Alliance partners of BJP have fielded 14 candidates on the party's lotus symbol. Meanwhile, the Congress is contesting the polls in alliance with the NCP. Both parties are contesting on 125 seats each in the 288-member Assembly and its allies on the remaining 38 seats.
The voting for the 288-member Assembly will be held on October 21 in a single phase and the counting of votes will take place on October 24. In total, Maharashtra has 8.94 crore registered voters, out of which 1.16 lakh are service voters. 1.8 lakh ballot units, 1.28 lakh control units, and 1.39 lakh VVPATs will be used in the state.
(With PTI inputs)