Laxman Jagtap, who has acquired the ungainly title of “TDR King of Pune”, has sprung a surprise. He wants voters to believe something they find difficult to digest.
The Jagtap camp, known in Pimpri-Chinchwad for allegedly distributing cash and other benefits during every election he has contested, claimed that not a single paisa was being distributed.
Neither voters nor other contestants buy this theory. Jagtap, said to be estimated worth Rs 4000 crore, says he is broke and “therefore there is no question of buying votes.”
“My rivals might be saying anything they want…we don’t buy votes. And we don’t have to do that. Our party has a huge number of traditional votes. Besides, the Modi wave will blow away any candidate contesting against me,” said Jagtap, who is contesting from Chinchwad constituency as a BJP candidate.
B Deshmukh, a resident of Chinchwad, says,”It will be like breaking news if Jagtap associates are found not wooing voters in the best manner they are known for…”
Jagtap, as an independent candidate, won Chinchwad seat in 2009 Assembly elections defeating Shrirang Barne of the Shiv Sena. Barne had avenged the humiliation by defeating Jagtap in the recent Lok Sabha elections by a huge margin.
When asked if not money, is he distributing other sops? “No, way…I don’t have anything to distribute to voters…I don’t have money,” he says.
Sarang Kamtekar, once in the Shiv Sena and is now a supporter of Jagtap, says, “It is the truth that Jagtap has no money.”
According to other close associates, Jagtap spent a fortune during Lok Sabha elections to win over voters. He was defeated after which he decided not to use money power, his associates say.
Barne ridiculed the claim of Jagap camp that they are not distributing money. “He is known to do that…I don’t have proof but all his victories have been based on money power,” he says. For good measure, Barne added, “No matter what he does, Jagtap will flop. Our Sena candidate Rahul Kalate, a rookie compared to Jagtap, will send him packing,” said Barne, adding, other than Pimple Gurav area, Jagtap will not get a lead anywhere.
Nana Kate, contesting on an NCP ticket, says it is impossible to believe Jagtap is not distributing money. “In fact, voters are waiting for his points man to deliver them a packet,” says Kate.
Kate is confident NCP’s performance in the past five years in Pimpri-Chinchwad will make him victorious.
“Our party has developed Pimpri-Chinchwad beyond imagination in five years. I am taking our performance to voters,” he said.
Other candidates Bhausaheb Bhoir (independent) Kailesh Kadam (Congress) and Moreshwar Bondve (independent) have their own areas of influence in the constituency. “It will be a tough battle. To defeat Jagtap, other candidates will have to put in their might,” says political observer Madhav Sahasrabuddhe.