Maharashtra Chief Electoral Officer Nitin Gadre has directed the Pune district collector to investigate the genuineness of a video that purportedly shows Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar warning villagers in Baramati that he would “cut off” their water supply if they did not vote for his cousin Supriya Sule.
Gadre has asked collector Saurabh Rao to check if the voice in the clip belongs to Pawar, as alleged by local people, as well as BJP and AAP leaders in the constituency. The Indian Express reported the existence of the video in its edition of Friday.
Pawar was quoted by TV channels on Friday as saying the voice on the tape was not his. His uncle, veteran politician and union minister Sharad Pawar told reporters the video was “doctored”.
Gadre acted after local BJP leader Dilip Khaire filed a complaint against Pawar with the returning officer for the constituency. Baramati, a traditional Pawar family seat, voted along with 18 other constituencies in Maharashtra on Thursday. Pawar’s purported warning — to Masalwadi villagers — was allegedly issued on Wednesday evening, 12 hours before polling opened.
“If anybody from this village indulges in any trouble, I will cut off the water (supply) to the village… My sister (NCP candidate Supriya Sule) will neither win nor lose because of your votes… But I will get to know from the voting machine (whom you have voted for)…,” Pawar purportedly says in the video.
BJP and AAP leaders have alleged Pawar’s meetings with voters on the eve of polling was a violation of the model code. They have alleged that on Wednesday evening, Pawar visited at least 40 villages where the NCP feared voters would go against the party.
“I have been asked to investigate and submit a report,” Rao said. Police are still to register a complaint filed against Pawar by AAP’s Suresh Khopade.
Residents of Masalwadi village said they were under “tremendous pressure since the news broke” and that the youths who had questioned Pawar had fled the village for fear of NCP workers.