BJP-NCP contest in assembly by-election takes ugly turn

BJP city chief Mathkari gets into heated argument with NCP workers, accuses them of influencing Khadakwasla voters

The Khadakwasla assembly bypoll yesterday was fraught with tension and the police had to intervene after BJP members objected to certain actions of NCP workers at the Vastad Haribhau Pokle Primary School. The BJP activists alleged the NCP workers were influencing voters.

Matters went out of hand after BJP city chief Vikas Mathkari claimed that the police were silent spectators and were "allowing" NCP workers inside the polling booth at Dhayri.

(Clockwise from top) ACP Meghashyam Malegaonkar cordons off a road immediately after Vikas Mathkari objected to the presence of several NCP activists near the polling booth at Vastad Haribhau Pokale Primary School in Dhayri; Rahul Kamte, son-in-law of late MLA Ramesh Wanjale's sister, seems to be a junior Wanjale in the making with a thick gold chain and pendant like his mentor used to sport; BJP youth leader Pramod Kondhare and party city unit president Vikas Mathkari have a heated exchange with police officer Rajendra Patil at the polling venue

"This is sheer violation of the election code of conduct since the NCP has been using the school as its campaign ground. They (NCP workers) are blatantly showing their own wristwatch and asking the voters to cast their vote on the sign of clock. We shall not tolerate this," Mathkari said.

Complaints lodged
The situation became worse after Mathkari along with BJP youth leader Pramod Kondhare and Shiv Sena leader Rajabhau Raikar lodged a complaint with the Election Chief Officer Jayantkumar Sevak, stating that "over 200 NCP activists were indirectly campaigning during the poll".

In response, local NCP leader Kaka Chavan made a cross-complaint with the police. There was a heated argument between Mathkari and local NCP activists Shivaji Mate, Sunny Raikar and Rahul Kamte.

Senior NCP leader Ankush Kakade also raised some objections. "BJP and Shiv Sena MLAs Bala Bhegde and Vijay Shivtare are campaigning for the BJP candidate Bhimrao Tapkir. They are outsiders and should not have been here. This is also a violation of the election code of conduct," he said.

There was mud-slinging by politicians during heated arguments between them. The situation turned serious when a local police officer, Inspector Suhas Garud, asked Mathkari to leave the place since he was not a voter in the constituency.

Mathkari also alleged that NCP candidate Harshada Wanjale had used 10 cars for her supporters to move around in the constituency to bring pressure on the voters.

Wanjale, who remained composed throughout, said: "The number of voters will go up when I reach each of the polling booths."

Cops take charge
Mathkari warned that he would go on hunger strike outside the school where the polling was happening if the NCP activists did not vacate the place. The issue was later ironed out by political workers. The police also arrived with additional forces and asked NCP workers to vacate the school premises.

Voters queue up at a Zilla Parishad school in Kondhawe Dhavade village to cast their votes; 95-year-old Balasaheb Bhumkar, the oldest voter to exercise his franchise in the bypoll, and his 87-year-old wife say they have not missed a single chance to vote in the last 65 years; heavy police bandobast seen at Wadgaon Budruk during polling yesterday

ACP Meghashyam Malegaonkar and his officers intervened to ensure there were no problems at the polling booth. Sudipto Guha, a polling observer, visited the school to maintain the peace.

Low turnout
The overall picture was not very encouraging when it came to the number of people seen at the various polling booths in the assembly constituency.

Only 5 per cent voting was recorded in the first two hours, which went up to 12 per cent by noon. It was 20 per cent by 2 pm and 30 per cent by 4pm.

All shops and business establishment were shut while the polling was on. At age 95, Balasaheb Bhumkar was the oldest voter to exercise his franchise, in Dhayri.

The polling was peaceful overall in other areas of Khadakwasala constituency.

Voting percentage in the constituency


Total votes cast

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