Demanding that upcoming Assembly elections in Maharashtra be held through ballot papers, the NCP Monday said such move would judge the actual popularity of the BJP-led combine among voters. Raising the demand, NCP group leader Jayant Patil said all that the government needed to do was to move a single-line resolution requesting the Election Commission to hold the polls through ballot papers. His demand came amidst a discussion on a Opposition-backed motion on “corruption” in the BJP-led government.
During the discussion, Atul Bhatkalkar of the BJP said the Opposition miserably lost the Lok Sabha elections. “This time they will be finished in the assembly elections,” he said. Patil said the data shows that the NDA combine led in more than 220 assembly segments in recently-held Lok Sabha elections. “According to BJP, the Congress-NCP front will shrink further in the state elections…”, he said. Baburao Pancharne of BJP questioned the Opposition’s demand for voting through ballot papers, saying senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar had contradicted the claim of tampering of electronic voting machines (EVMs). “Ajit Pawar had said that had the EVMs were tampered with then how the Congress would have won polls in three Hindi heartland states last year,” Pancharne said.
To this, Ajit, a former deputy chief minister and a nephew of party chief Sharad Pawar, said that every individual has the right to voice his opinion. “Jayant Patil is the group leader of the NCP in the Assembly. He is also the state unit president of the NCP. I support his demand for holding polls through ballot papers,” he said. Leader of Opposition Vijay Wadettiwar said some ministers have been making comments on the number of seats the BJP would win in the polls and how the Opposition would fall aside.
“They are also commenting on the schedule of elections which is not yet announced. This is the reason we are demanding ballot papers,” he said. Speaking on the motion, Jayant Patil also alleged that SRA (Slum Rehabilitation Authority) projects are “hubs of corruption”. He said the permission for constructing a club on the mangroves land, which is a no development zone, was given by the government to the brother of BJP MLA Narendra Mehta, which is a violation of the high court order. He said the Mira Bhayander municipal corporation had rejected the permission for construction of the club, but the Urban Development department allowed it saying the state highway also passes through the area.
“The file was signed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. If construction work is not allowed on the land with mangrove plantation then how could construction of a Rs 700-crore private club was allowed,” he questionned. Patil said the MLA’s brother is a partner in the club. “The land was sought by Mehta under the pretext of constructing a hospital,” he said.