The State Election Commission (SEC) on Wednesday directed Aurangabad Collector Nidhi Pandey to register a First Information Report (FIR) against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state unit president and former Union minister Raosaheb Danve Patil for his controversial comment during the civic poll campaign in Aurangabad’s Paithan district. An offence has been lodged against Patil under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Maharashtra Municipal Councils, Nagar Panchayats and Industrial Townships Act 1965.
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Patil’s comment that “Lakshmi” or the ‘Goddess of Wealth’ arrives before elections and that people must welcome it was criticised by political leaders across the state.
The SEC had sought reports from the Aurangabad collector and an explanation from Patil before initiating criminal action.
The matter came to light during the election campaign of BJP candidate Suresh Lolge at Paithan on December 17, where Patil allegedly said in Marathi, “Nivadnukichi Aadli raatra khup Mahatvaa chi aste, Lakshmi ghari yete, ashya laxmi cha swagat kara,” (The night before election is very important, the Goddess of Wealth comes home, one should welcome it.)
Objecting to this statement, NCP leader Sunil Tatkare, AAP leader Anjali Damania and leaders of Congress party demanded that the BJP state unit chief be booked for violation of the poll code. Following this, the local returning officer had issued a show cause notice to Patil.
Clarifying his stand, Patil said, “I had said ‘Lakshmi cha swagat kara..’ referring to the Goddess Lakshmi and not money. My comment was misinterpreted.”
Urging the SEC to adopt stringent measures in such cases, NCP leader Nawab Malik said, “Not just this case, but the SEC must probe other cases involving leaders of BJP influencing voters through their money and muscle power.”
Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan said, “The episode involving the BJP state president only shows how the ruling party has been using its reign and money to influence voters. The BJP’s claims of victory in the recent local body polls must be seen in this light.”
Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party Maharashtra president Abu Azmi has demanded the resignation of the BJP state chief. Azmi said, “After EC orders to file FIR against Patil, he must resign taking moral responsibility.”
Patil is the second leader from the ruling alliance to face charges of violation of the code of conduct. Rashtriya Samaj Paksha chief and the state Animal Husbandry and Dairy development minister Mahadev Jankar too was booked earlier this month for allegedly threatening the returning officer of Desaiganj, a municipal town in Gadchiroli, ostensibly to reject the Congress candidate’s nomination. Aurangabad Collector Nidhi Pandey said, “We had already submitted a report on the December 17 episode involving the BJP leader. An offence will be registered against Danve Patil by the local returning officer.”