Blind man who took on Ajit Pawar afraid of losing his job
“I don’t care if I lose my job. Even if death comes in my way, I will not end my fight against those who have been ruling this constituency since 1967,” was the bold claim made by Chandrakant Manik Kadam (45), who took on NCP heavyweight Ajit Pawar in Baramati in the recent Assembly polls. Not only did he end up losing the election to Pawar, he now faces losing his job as well.
Kadam returned to work yesterday, despite being told that he had been dismissed from the bank. He said he would not stop working until he receives a written explanation for his dismissal.
mid-day had reported that Kadam, a visually-impaired resident of Bhoitewadi village, had been working as a lift attendant at Pune District Central Cooperative (PDCC) Bank since February, when he was hired by Ajit Pawar, the former deputy CM and director of the bank (Tired of ‘Monarchy’ blind man takes on Ajit Pawar in Baramati, September 29). On Sunday, however, he was clearly informed by the bank administration that his services were no longer required there.
Kadam has been working at PDCC Bank since February, after he was hired as a lift attendant by Ajit Pawar, who is the director of the bank.
According to Kadam, in a telephonic conversation on Sunday, a senior bank official, Raju Pawar, told him he need not return to the office from Monday onwards, indicating that Kadam’s ‘mistakes’ in the recent past had landed him in trouble. Kadam was advised to meet Ajit Pawar, and was informed that the matter would be escalated to him anyway.
This reporter accompanied Kadam as he returned to work yesterday, undeterred by the phone call. However, he was soon accosted by the bank official, Raju. “Why did you sign on the employee muster today? Whom did you ask before doing this? You behave as if you are an officer here,” Raju said (mid-day has video footage).
A senior official at PDCC Bank, Raju Pawar, called Kadam to his cabin when he turned up for work yesterday. mid-day has a video in which Raju refers to Kadam’s ‘past mistakes’
In Raju’s cabin, Kadam asked what mistakes he had committed, and Raju responded with vague excuses, saying Kadam had stayed in the government guest house without permission last week, adding that he had also been seen smoking outside the office building.
On Kadam’s insistence for a proper explanation, Raju said, “You should restrict yourself to your work. Don’t do unnecessary things.”
It was only when this reporter alluded to the elections, asking whether Kadam’s mistake had been contesting the polls against Pawar, the official replied, “See, you yourself are saying this. This means you are also convinced about it,” adding further, “it is better if you approach dada (Pawar). Anyway, the matter will reach him soon.”
While Kadam was allowed to work for the day, his future at the bank still seems uncertain, despite that the fact that in all of mid-day’s undercover interactions with other bank officials, they appreciated Kadam for his work ethic, commending him for working against all odds and travelling from Baramati to Pune every day for his job.
‘Not Pawar’s fault’
Kadam, the sole breadwinner in his family of four, fears for his job, but still does not blame Ajit Pawar for the fallout. “There are particular bank officials who are ideologically loyal to the NCP, and they are just not able to digest the fact that I dared to fight the election against Pawar. Hence, they wanted to fire me,” he said.
“I know Ajit Pawar very well. He would never indulge in such dirty office politics. The top management of the bank has not asked me to stop working yet. It is only particular officials who are targeting me. But till I receive a written notice explaining the reasons for my dismissal, I will not stop working here,” he added.
The other side
When this newspaper contacted Rajendra Deshmukh, managing director of PDCC Bank, he took a cautious stand but hinted that Kadam could end up losing his job, saying, “Anyway, Kadam is not a permanent employee, and was working on a contractual basis for the past few months.”
When informed that Ajit Pawar had himself offered him the job, he responded, “Yes, I know that. But his current position is temporary. He will have another opportunity to apply when the government lifts the current ban on recruitment. Ajit dada himself prefers not to go beyond the law.”
Taking note of Kadam’s eight-day hunger strike in November 2013 to protest against water scarcity in Baramati, Ajit Pawar inaugurated an irrigation project, and also filled a small lake in Kadam’s village. He then offered Kadam a job at PDCC, which was closer to Pawar’s residence than his former workplace of 15 years, Mumbai District Central Cooperative Bank. Contesting the Assembly polls, Kadam insisted that the job was separate from politics, and neither he, nor Ajit Pawar would allow one to mix with the other.