ALREADY BEING accused of surreptitiously campaigning for his son Sujay, the BJP candidate from Ahmednagar, senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil has now come under attack from elder brother Ashok Vikhe-Patil, who has charged him with usurping family business and misleading the voters.
Radhakrishna, the leader of Opposition in state Assembly, has so far maintained silence on charges that he had been campaigning for his son. Following Ashok’s claims, made at an NCP event on Tuesday, Radhakrishna claimed that he would respond to all the allegations at an appropriate time.
“I don’t think it is necessary to comment on every issue,” he told The Indian Express in a text message. “Bringing out personal family matters has already created a negative impact for them (those accusing him),” he said in another message.
Ahmednagar has become one of the most keenly-watched contests after Sujay joined the BJP a few weeks before the polls. There were also talks of Radhakrishna joining the BJP, but he has so far remained in the Congress. Sujay will take on NCP’s Sangram Jagtap.
Ashok, chairman of the Vikhe Patil Foundation Pune that runs several educational institutions besides sugar mills, has not been on good terms with Radhakrishna for years. On Tuesday evening, he alleged that his brother could go to any extent to retain political power, and accused him backstabbing him to gain control over the educational institutions. Ashok also questioned the manner in which Sujay has obtained his medical degree.
Ashok told The Indian Express on Wednesday that he was not speaking against his brother under any political pressure. “No one has asked me to speak. Not (NCP chief) Sharad Pawar, not anyone else. I am not under anyone’s influence. In fact, I had spoken about several of these facts at a press conference in March 2017, about how my fight with Radhakrishna had started three years ago when he had backstabbed me and illegally took over the Pravara group of educational institutions,” he added.
“Yesterday evening, I spoke at the NCP candidate’s rally, as I wanted people to know that Radhakrishna does not believe in any principles and will go to any lengths to deceive voters,” he said. Ashok reiterated that his brother had been campaigning for Sujay and had directed nearly 4,000 employees of the Pravara group to canvass for him.
A BJP leader in Ahmednagar, a close aide of Sujay, said Ashok had been propped up by the Opposition to rake up differences within the Vikhe-Patil family.
When contacted, Sujay said all his critics would get an answer on May 23 when the election results would be announced. “Let them say what they want to. Even if I defend myself, they are going to say only negative things about me. So, let the people decide and answer all their questions. They have seen our work and our focus on development,” he added.