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MCA polls: Sharad Pawar brings up 'gifts & imported chocolates'

Incumbent president indicates his displeasure at opposition distributing advance rewards for votes at today's MCA polls; promises one more BKC membership for voters

On the eve of the most-awaited biennial elections of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), both contesting panels tried to woo voters by announcing additional membership of the Bandra Kurla Complex recreational facility for all MCA member clubs.

Also Read: This is why politicians enter sporting associations...

MCA president Sharad Pawar addressing the media at Wankhede Stadium yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble
MCA president Sharad Pawar addressing the media at Wankhede Stadium yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble 

Sharad Pawar, the incumbent president of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), announced one additional membership of the Bandra Kurla Complex recreational club for clubs while his opponent candidate Dr Vijay Patil of the Cricket First panel, who will contest for the president's post, said maximum advantages and membership possibility would be opened up for clubs if they came in power.

"For the first time I am hearing that expensive gifts and imported chocolates are distributed amongst the voters (by his opposition). Well, I believe in passing benefits to our clubs and that is why we have decided to open one more membership of the BKC club after getting elected. It will help clubs financially. What is the benefit in having chocolates? Now, it is up to you to decide," Pawar told a packed gathering of voters and members at the Garware Club yesterday.

Immediately after Pawar's announcement, Patil stated: "We in the Cricket First panel have been working with the private contractor at BKC club to ensure maximum benefits and memberships possibility for our clubs." Was it done to counter Pawar-Mahaddalkar group's strategy? Patil replied: "This is not a favour that we will be doing. It is every club's right. We have been stressing on this in our meetings with voters. However, this is surely a election gimmick from our opposition just 24 hours before the voting day. The voters are smart to understand these stunts now."

It may be recalled that the MCA recently started a talent hunt programme for tennis-ball bowlers. However, it is learnt there is little progress being made on that front as all the officials are busy with their campaigning. Pawar also highlighted his plans to voters and urged them for their support in his final meeting with them. "My plan is to start similar facilities like BKC and Kandivali at Thane and eastern suburbs.

'Need your support'
"That is why I am contesting again and I need your support again," said Pawar, who did not fail to mention that under his leadership MCA managed to develop prized assets at BKC, Kandivali and bringing the Indian cricket board's headquarters to Mumbai. He also said that the MCA has not spent any money in developing them.

Uddhav Thackeray
Uddhav Thackeray 

A Cricket First spokesperson told mid-day: "In 2013, the Managing Committee had passed four memberships of Kandivali club and two of BKC. While the four memberships have been distributed to every club, the two memberships of BKC are yet to be provided to all clubs. And Pawar was of the opinion that out of the promised two memberships we might give only one now. So, all this is a hogwash and we urge voters to guard against these foul tactics."

Earlier, while talking to reporters, Pawar reacted sharply to Uddhav Thackeray's jibe at him on Monday. The Shiv Sena chief, who is backing the Cricket First panel, had said that Pawar's score is still zero. "SK Wankhede scored at least one century and I have scored at least two centuries (by developing BKC and Kandivali clubs). My work is there for everyone to see. His father was my good friend. I don't take the second generation seriously," said Pawar.

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