Ugly Battle: MNS, Congress sling mud, slap cases on each other

The intense election-eve drama that began when MNS men bashed Cong workers for doling out cash for votes spilled over yesterday. While party candidates attacked and counterattacked each other, their supporters indulged in assaults, lodging cases and enlisting help of allies to discredit the other, creating a tense situation on poll day today

The drama that broke out in the city’s political theatre exactly two days before voting continued unabated yesterday, with Congress candidate Vishwajeet Kadam alleging that the MNS was conspiring to discredit him in the eyes of the voters on election eve.

Personnel of the State Reserve Police Force, Home Guard and city police stood guard at Rasta Peth, as the situation turned taut with MNS men protesting against Kadam. Pics/Mohan Patil

Kadam was named in an FIR lodged by MNS workers at Samarth police station on Tuesday, along with 15 others who were allegedly involved in distributing money to voters.

A day after this paper reported that MNS men and women thrashed three Congress workers for allegedly wooing voters with cash, Kadam claimed that the party engaged goons for attacking them. He said the Bharati Vidyapeeth deemed university (BVP) employees, who were beaten up at MNS candidate Deepak Paigude’s Rasta Peth office, were voluntarily campaigning and distributing voter slips in the city.

Situation taut: Samarth police station at Rasta Peth where Deepak Paigude and MNS men are protesting

In a cross-complaint against MNS workers, Abhinandan Muke, one of the three assaulted men, lodged a case against Prakash Pawar, the MNS worker who first nabbed the trio, and 40-50 other MNS activists.

“MNS workers Lahu Mane and Prakash Pawar, who attacked the Congress workers on Tuesday evening, have serious offences registered against them at various police stations in the city,” said Kadam, while addressing media persons on Wednesday afternoon at his bungalow on BMCC Road, in the presence of Congress city president Abhay Chhajed.

Deepak Paigude

Inspector Dattatreya Patil, in charge of Samarth police station, said, “The MNS workers have five to six offences registered against them. We are investigating the case.”

Just a ‘tamasha’
Said Kadam, “It is a conspiracy hatched against us by Bharatiya Janata Party and MNS, both of whom have similar ideology and want to make one particular person the prime minister of the country. MNS is trying to terrorise citizens by attacking our party workers. We condemn their violence. Beating up a highly qualified person does not fit in our culture. MNS is trying to mislead voters and is diverting the focus from development agenda.”

Vishwajeet Kadam

Kadam said, “BVP employees had voluntarily taken up the task of distributing voter slips and they had just gathered near Poona Café for tea. “If MNS workers were so concerned about cash being distributed to voters, why didn’t they alert the police immediately? Why were the Congress workers first taken to MNS candidate Deepak Paigude’s office and beaten there? Even before the police arrived media persons were present. The MNS workers had kept the cash and other election material in the bags of our workers and presented a distorted version in front of media to mislead people.

“We are exploring the possible legal actions. MNS is now using pressure tactics and creating a tamasha outside police stations just before voting is going to start,” Kadam said. Meanwhile, Paigude continued his agitation at Samarth police station , demanding the arrest of Kadam for instigating his party workers to distribute money to voters. A tense situation prevailed in Rasta Peth area, and additional police force was deployed to maintain order.

“If BVP employees or other Congress workers continue to influence voters by distributing money, we will again attack them,” Paigude said. “Kadam has taken Punekars for granted. He has encroached upon the culture of Pune city by trying to distribute money to lure voters. Punekars are sensible enough to understand the game plan of Congress party. They will come out in large numbers and vote out Congress,” he said.

Asked about Kadam’s allegations of MNS goons creating fear, Paigude said, “There are thousands of MNS activists who ardently follow our leader Raj Thackeray. So I can’t comment on particular names. Kadam can say anything he wants but they have brought shame on this city. We won’t tolerate this and will retaliate.”

“The accused Congress workers were seen in the area for the last 15 days. The owner of the hotel where they’d meet have given us their bills, which amount to R20,000. The election material found with them proves that Kadam’s claims are not true,” he said.

Another assault

Meanwhile, Chatuhshrungi police arrested two MNS workers on charges of assaulting Congress workers campaigning for Vishwajeet Kadam in Gokhalenagar on Tuesday. Congress’ Rahul Pawar (29) lodged the complaint, and cops arrested Dayanand Irkal and Samadhan Shinde. Cops said when Pawar and his associates returned to Orse hostel after campaigning, some 10 MNS workers came and threatened them. “They asked us about money being distributed to voters and started beating us,” Pawar said in his complaint.

Addl CP (South Region) Chandrashekhar Daithankar said, “The parties concerned have registered cross complaints against each other. We are investigating the cases, but presently our priority is to maintain law and order in the city.”

It is a conspiracy hatched against us by BJP and MNS, who want to make one particular person the PM. MNS is trying to terrorise by attacking our party workers and mislead voters
- Vishwajeet Kadam Congress candidate

Kadam...trying to distribute money to lure voters. Punekars are sensible enough to understand Cong’s game. They will come out and vote out Cong from Pune
- Deepak Paigude MNS candidate

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