Elections 2019: Wardha sees Tadas vs Tokas in the shadow of a sting operation

Updated: Apr 05, 2019, 11:45 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Wardha

BJP nominee and MP, Ramdas Tadas, is accused of having a budget of Rs 25 crore to contest; but will Rahul Gandhi mention this revelation, as the sting also exposed Congress candidates accused of same?

Ramdas Tadas (wearing glasses) campaigns in Wardha. He has said the allegations are false. Pic/Sunny Shende
Ramdas Tadas (wearing glasses) campaigns in Wardha. He has said the allegations are false. Pic/Sunny Shende

Congress President Rahul Gandhi couldn't have asked for more to campaign here in Wardha, where a BJP nominee and sitting member of Parliament (MP), Ramdas Tadas, is accused of having a budget of R25 crore to contest the elections. In a sting operation by a private news channel, the BJP leader is also alleged to have paid some people to field proxy candidates in the race, so that the splitting of votes helps him retain the seat.

Gandhi will be here to seek votes for Charulata Rau Tokas, who is pitted against the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Ramdas Tadas. However, it would be interesting to see if Gandhi speaks about the charges against the BJP candidate, because in the said sting, three Congress MPs too were accused of similar charges, including provision of cash for votes.

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A news channel, TV9 Bharatvarsh, claimed on Wednesday that Tadas has been planning to spend a whopping Rs 25 crore that includes the money to be given to the proxy candidates and other expenditure. In a video that shows him interact with a reporter, he says that he had spent Rs 10 cr on the 2014 elections and has increased the budget for these elections by more than double. Tadas allegedly says hard cash plays an important role in winning elections and suggests that it be carried in a vehicle that has an MP's sticker on it. The news channel claimed the sting operation was executed in New Delhi in February this year.

Following the sting and the Election Commission's directive, the Wardha District Collector has served a notice to Tadas seeking an explanation.

Other MPs in the sting too

The sting features 15 MPs from across the country who admitted that they violate the election code. Of these, five are from BJP, three each from Congress and Samajwadi Party, one each from Aam Adami Party, All India United Democratic Front, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Jan Adhikar Party, Shiromani Akali Dal, Lok Janashakti Party and one is an independent.

Following the telecast, the video has become viral in Wardha constituency and the talk of the town. "It is a known fact that the money spent in elections is way beyond a permissible limit. But the MP's admission raises a question about the source of the money he is talking about," said local resident Amol Wankhede.

Congress workers in the city demanded an explanation from the MP and accused him of earning the money through illegal means. But when asked about similar charges against their own people, they skirted the issue.

Tadas said the allegations were false and he would file a complaint against the news channel.

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Challenge for Congress

Gandhi's Friday rally brings immense pressure on the Congress leaders because the attendance would be compared with that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's April 1 event that the Congress had branded a failure in terms of public response.

The comparison would be debated fiercely because the venue of both events is the same ground. The Congress leadership here claimed that the workers have been mobilised and they were more enthused than before, primarily because of the low turnout for Modi's rally. They said the timing for Gandhi's rally - late afternoon - was more suitable on a hot summer day which may see the mercury rise to 42-43 degree celsius.

The BJP has planned a counter move by sending their own people to record videos of the Gandhi rally. "Our workers will be positioned in each strategic location filming the videos and making them viral at regular intervals," said a BJP youth leader. The videos of sparse attendance at the Modi rally were circulated widely on social media on April 1.

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