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Lok Sabha Polls: State EC scrutinising Sharad Pawar's 'vote twice' speech

Officials are going through the CD of the NCP chief’s controversial speech, in which he asked mathadi workers at Navi Mumbai to vote twice; EC is likely to forward a report to Delhi

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar is under scrutiny for possible violations of the election code of conduct, after a speech he gave to mathadi workers in Navi Mumbai on Sunday.

Sharad Pawar with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan at an election campaign rally in Satara yesterday. PIC/PTI
Sharad Pawar with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan at an election campaign rally in Satara yesterday. PIC/PTI

In the speech, Pawar had asked the workers, who are mostly from Satara district, to vote twice for NCP – once in their hometowns and once in their work district in Mumbai. Satara and Mumbai go to polls on different dates in the multi-phase poll schedule this year.

The state wing of the Election Commission (EC) of India started scrutinising the CD of Pawar’s speech yesterday, after procuring it in the morning. Sources said a report would be forwarded to EC’s Delhi headquarters soon.

Taking measures
Pawar in the video had asked workers to erase the voting ink mark and cast their vote again for NCP a second time. “Vote for the clock (the NCP symbol) in Satara, and come back to vote for the clock here as well,” Pawar had said, evoking laughter. He later clarified that he had made the statement in jest, and it was satirical.

However, officers say it is difficult to remove the indelible ink mark, as it is lab-tested and lasts at least for 15 days. In 2009, polling in Satara and Mumbai was on the same day, and people went to their hometowns. This time, polling in Satara is on April 17 and on April 24 in Mumbai.

“Even as Pawar has clarified that the remarks on bogus voting were in a lighter vein, it can not go unnoticed,” say sources. The EC will verify the mood, tone and the tenor of the speech. The EC may also ask for electoral rolls of Satara, Mumbai and Thane to check duplication of names.

BJP lodges complaint against Pawar
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) filed a complaint with the EC and sought action against Pawar. Kirit Somaiya, BJP’s candidate from Mumbai North East, submitted a letter to the state’s Chief Electoral Officer with a demand that the NCP should be banned. He also had a meeting with special Inspector General of Police Deven Bharati. NCP termed this as a publicity gimmick. “He has this habit of staying in the news by any means,” state NCP president Bhaskar Jadhav said.

EC asks Pawar to explain statement
NCP chief Sharad Pawar had ‘prima facie’ violated the Model Code of Conduct, the Election Commission said yesterday and asked him to explain his stand by Thursday evening failing which a decision will be taken without asking him further. “...the Commission is, prima facie, of the opinion that by making the aforesaid statement you have violated the ... (sub para 4 of para 1) provision of Model Code,” the EC wrote to the NCP chief.

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