Those who lost say money was the deciding factor
If candidates both winners and losers are to be believed,the amount that exchanged hands during the elections in Pimpri-Chinchwad could well be a whopping Rs 500 crore.
Candidates who won and those who lost are not hesitant to point out that in their panels,crores were spent to buy votes. A major chunk of the amount was spent two days before the election. Off the record,the winning candidates are quoting a figure of Rs 20-25 lakh they spent but on record,they blame their rivals for pumping in crores to buy votes. Those who lost say the winners spent not less than a crore.
Deputy mayor Dabbu Aswani said on poll day,the rate was Rs 6,000 per vote in his Pimpri panel. I know at least one candidate who spent Rs 2-3 crore. This is what he has been telling people, said Aswani. He,however,clarified that he did not buy votes.
NCP rebel candidate Yeshwant Bhosale said candidates in Sant Tukaram panel spent at least Rs 10 crore. One big candidate spent Rs 7 crore, he said. However,Bhosale confessed that he spent Rs 12 lakh. Of this,Rs 10 lakh was spent much before the code of conduct came into force, he said.
Congress candidate Premkumar Nair said elections are no longer about votes for good work. It is all about money. In my panel,candidates spent at least Rs 5 crore to buy votes. I lost to money power…I have been part of PCMC elections since 1980. Earlier,money was distributed only in slums. Now,even voters in high-rises are taking money brazenly, he said.
Nair said candidates in Morwadi panel did not even once visit the voters,yet they garnered handsome votes.
In some wards,it seemed that voters expected payment. Kiran Mote,who won from Kasarwadi,said,I got a call from a voter saying his entire family voted for me…now how much will you pay us?
Advocate Sushil Mancharkar said in Gandhinagar area,candidates spent over Rs 5 crore. Shiv Sena candidate Sulbha Ubale said in her Yamunagar panel,at least Rs 2-3 crore were spent to buy votes. Another Sena candidate Seema Savle said over Rs 5 crore was distributed among voters in her panel. Yet I won, she said.
Independent corporator Maruti Bhapkar said,I knew I would lose. My opponents were distributing money to every voter. I had made it clear that I would not pay a single paisa even if it meant losing the election. Some voters who I refused to pay told me that they would not vote for me, he said,adding that candidates pumped in at least Rs 10 crore in Kalbhornagar to buy votes.
Mayor Yogesh Behl pegs the total figure at Rs 500-700 crore. Theres no doubt a huge sum exchanged hands this elections. I think the figure is over Rs 500 crore.
Sena leader Sarang Kamtekar said the figure could be around Rs 400 crore. BJP city chief Eknath Pawar said money ruled in 2012 elections.
Former mayor Mangala Kadam said,It is a frightening scenario. The signal from voters is clear. You work for five years,we will not vote. You pay us,we will vote for you. Kadam,however,said in her panel,candidates did not buy votes. Even Pune Mayor Mohan Rajpal Singh said he lost in because of money power.