Did Cong leader Aba Bagul spend Rs 1 L on glossy report card?

Jan 24, 2012, 07:26 IST | A Correspondent

Aspiring NCP candidate claims sitting corporator distributed 5,000 booklets

Aspiring NCP candidate claims sitting corporator distributed 5,000 booklets

Sitting corporator Aba Bagul has released a 70-page glossy booklet, apparently to boast about work done during his tenure and woo voters in the run-up to the civic polls. The move has raised eyebrows of rivals who feel the cost of the booklet should be included in his campaign expenditure.

Progress report: The cover page of Aba Bagul's booklet with pictures 
of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, PM Manmohan Singh and Rahul 

Bagul claims to have distributed around 1,000 copies of the booklet among voters in the Sahakarnagar area, while aspiring NCP candidate Shashikant Tapkir pegs the number at 5,000 copies. "Bagul had distributed his booklets to every household in the ward. The total cost of printing such a glossy booklet could be around Rs 1 lakh," Tapkir said. 

Many residents in the Sahakarnagar confirmed that they had received Bagul's work done report. In the booklet, Bagul played up Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi's picture prominently with his own photograph at the bottom of the cover page. 

The back page displays a colourful collage of his achievements such as butterfly garden, and 4-D theatre for children. According to political observers, the Congress leader is known for his unique ideas and enforcing them in his own ward. He has built a butterfly garden, Bhimsen Joshi Art Gallery, seven wonders of world garden and a 4-Dimentional Theatre for children. 

Bagul has been a pioneering force behind starting cultural festivals in Pune. The four- time corporator Bagul is now once again trying his luck from his Panel No 67 at Sahakarnagar.

The other side
Talking about the expenses incurred on the booklet, Bagul said, "I made a limited edition of the report and spent Rs 18 on each copy. The report was printed and published two three months ago even before the election code of conduct kicked in. The copies were distributed to some houses, excluding slums in my area."

What EC says
Dnyeshwar Molak, Returning Officer, Election Commission, said: "As per the existing laws, incorporating amount spent on the work done report in the poll expenditure is possible, if the report gets published after the announcement of the names of the respective candidates." 

Molak added that many sitting corporators who were confident of their candidature, publish such reports in advance as a part of their own propaganda. "We can certainly add the expense as a part of election campaign expenditure, if someone in the constituency files a complaint with the election commission about the 'Work Done' report and its quantity with a proof," he said, adding the limit for election campaign expenditure per candidate is Rs 4 lakh.

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