BMC Polls: And cash for votes begins...

Even as model code of conduct is in place, video showing Samajwadi Party candidate handing out money to locals in Govandi surfaces

Video grabs of Ayesha Shaikh handing over money to a supporter who passed it on to the locals
Video grabs of Ayesha Shaikh handing over money to a supporter who passed it on to the locals

In what could prove to be a blow to the Samajwadi Party just before the BMC elections, a video of its candidate from ward 140 in Govandi distributing money to people surfaced yesterday. The model code of conduct is already in force to ensure fair and unbiased polls on February 21.

As per the State Election Commission’s rules, during the code of conduct, any activity likely to influence voters will be termed as a gross violation of the norms and will face action.

This is the first incident of the 2017 BMC polls of a politician openly distributing money to influence voters.

On tape
The video shows two-term former corporator from Govandi Ayesha Shaikh (46) doling out cash, with party workers giving the money to locals, during her campaign. Shaikh can be heard telling the people that she has taken care of their needs, and now, she wants them to take care of hers.

In the 2-minute-43-second video, Shaikh can be surrounded by several people, handing over a bundle of notes to one of them, who is then seen distributing the money around. Shaikh can also be heard making an appeal to the people to vote for her on religious grounds. “I am giving Rs 15,000 for your religious event; now, please remember this and take care of my needs,” she says in the video.

Shaikh was elected corporator for five years in 2002 and for two-and-a-half years in 2007 after then sitting corporator was disqualified for submitting a bogus caste certificate.

Conspiracy camera?
When contacted, Shaikh said, “It is political conspiracy to malign my image as I am a strong candidate and will definitely win in the BMC elections. This video seems to be an old one. I was not distributing money for votes, I was helping them for their religious event. It has nothing to do with elections.”

When asked that in the video she can be heard asking people to vote for her while giving them money, she said, “I was just helping them, nothing else. Other candidates do such things in the form of organising community functions and distribute several items, but nobody questions them.”

M-east ward officials have filed a complaint against Shaikh for violating the model code of conduct. When mid-day contacted assistant municipal commissioner of M-east SP Kilije, he said he was in a meeting and would call back but didn’t. After local politician Reshma Nevrekar’s complaint, a case under section 171 of the IPC has been registered against Shaikh in Deonar police station.

State Election Commissioner JS Shaharia said he hasn’t seen the video yet and will comment only after he does.

Poll mayhem
This is not the first time a party has come under the spotlight over money involvement in elections. mid-day had reported on January 3 how Shiv Sena corporator Shantaram Patil from Govandi had allegedly demanded money from a Sena worker in exchange for giving a ticket to his wife to contest the election.

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