"Congress leaders will now come to offer you money. I suggest you take the money but don't vote for them," said Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray at his first election rally in the city on Monday on the Mutha riverbank. However, this statement might get the fierce orator in trouble with the Election Commission (EC).
No holding back: Raj Thackeray at his first election rally held at Mutha riverbank on Monday. Thousands turned up to hear the MNS leader. During his address, he not only attacked the Congress but also took potshots at his cousin, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray. Pic/Mohan Patil
Sources said that the wing of EC that looks into cases of breach of model code of conduct had taken cognisance of the speech and will look into the matter. Apurva Wankhede, the deputy election officer, said, "Our vigilance team keenly looks into any attempts to breach the model code.
First, our video wing will crosscheck the entire speech and then we shall discuss further course of action." During his address, attended by thousands, Thackeray categorically appealed to voters to take the Congress leaders' money and vote against them. He said, "Congress has looted Maharashtra.
So now, if they offer you money, then accept it and vote against them." He also took a shot at Vishwajeet Kadam, the candidate from the Congress in Pune and son of Patangrao Kadam, founder of Bharti Vidyapeeth.
"This is the right opportunity to take back the donations you had paid to Bharti Vidyapeeth. So approach Kadam to recover it and vote against him," Raj stated. When mid-day contacted the Congress, the leaders were in no mood to comment on the issue.
Vishwajeet Kadam refrained from commenting on Raj's speech. Congress city unit chief Abhay Chajed too disconnected the phone when contacted. However, Wankhede clarified that even if no leader came forward with an official complaint, her department could initiate an inquiry.
EC official Mangesh Joshi, who looks into cases of breaching model code added, "Our video wing has recorded the speech. I am expecting a report on it soon. Only then will we decide what step to take."
On March 23, EC had slapped a notice on NCP chief Sharad Pawar for saying that people should vote twice.
While addressing a conclave of mathadi workers in Navi Mumbai, he had said, "Last time (in 2009), the polling in Satara and Mumbai was on the same day and people went to their hometowns.
But this time, polling in Satara is on April 17 and here on April 24. Vote for the clock (NCP symbol) there (in Satara) and come back to vote for the clock here as well.
Do erase the ink mark which will be put when you vote first."