The Congress on Saturday alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) used black money during the recently-held first phase of municipal council elections, citing allegations made by the BJP’s ally, the Shiv Sena, in its mouthpiece Saamana. It also asked the election commission to probe the matter.
Sanjay Nirupam, Mumbai Congress president met state election commissioner JS Saharia and requested him to issue notices to Saamana and its editor Uddhav Thackeray. He also asked Saharia to probe the allegations in detail as they are of a serious nature.
Contrary to the expectations of political parties, the BJP emerged as a winner in the first phase of civic body elections held in 147 municipal councils. The results came as a surprise against the backdrop of the cash crisis caused by demonetisation, a move that severely affected rural areas. A majority of municipal councils were controlled by the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) prior to the BJP’s win.
In its editorial published on November 30, Saamana, quoting a news report, said the BJP offered poll funds to candidates with elective merit.
A portion of the funds was deposited in civic bodies in the form of old currency. It said chief minister Devendra Fadnavis needed to provide an explanation for this. Pointing to a statement made by Fadnavis on demonetisation, during an election rally at Ratnagiri in coastal Maharashtra, Nirupam also charged the BJP with flouting the code of conduct.
The chief minister had stirred controversy by calling those opposing the Centre’s demonetisation policy “anti-national”. “All of us must stand behind Modiji in this 50-day long battle against black money...Those who don’t support this are anti-national,” said Fadnavis.
Nirupam said the speech amounted to a violation of the election code of conduct as Fadnavis was trying to influence the people directly. He asked the election commission to take note of the incident. Nirupam has also demanded a fair probe into the case of minister Subhash Deshmukh, as Rs91.5 lakh was recently seized from a vehicle belonging to his company — Lokmangal Group.