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Friday, September 17, 2021

‘Bribe taint will not hurt BJP’s chances of returning to power, truth will expose the brains behind ACB raid’: Mahesh Landge

BJP’s Pimpri-Chinchwad president Mahesh Landge says “His arrest has no basis, no proof. There are no call records nor any documentary evidence.”

Written by Manoj Dattatrye More | Pune |
Updated: August 22, 2021 9:25:03 am
Pimpri-Chinchwad BJP president Mahesh Landge (Express Photo)

The ruling BJP suffered a major setback ahead of the February 2022 election after PCMC standing committee chairman and four other civic employees were arrested Thursday on charges of accepting bribes for issuing work orders. And the besieged party is fighting hard to shrug off the corruption charges being levelled against its four-and-half year-old regime. In an interview with The Indian Express, BJP’s Pimpri-Chinchwad president Mahesh Landge, who is also an MLA, emphasises that the “truth will soon come out” and the ACB raid and subsequent arrests will not have any impact on its chances of returning to power in the ensuing civic elections.

With the arrest of BJP corporator Nitin Lande, the standing committee chairman, has the party suffered a big loss of face ahead of the civic elections?

Not at all. We are fully confident that Nitin Landge is not involved in the incident. His arrest has no basis, no proof. There are no call records nor any documentary evidence. He has fallen victim to a pre-planned conspiracy. The entire party is with him and we are sure he will emerge unscathed from this episode. We know at whose behest the raid took place. There is politics behind this. Even people of Pimpri-Chinchwad know it well and therefore, there is no reason for us to feel rattled.

Do you think it will have an impact on your chances of returning to power in the 2022 civic elections?

Our party corporators and leaders throughout the four-and-half-year tenure have done an outstanding job. We have provided a public-oriented regime. Every problem and grievance were taken up in all sincerity and purpose. We have not lagged behind in any manner despite the Covid-19 pandemic. All this has been done to defame BJP with an eye on the elections. People who did this will not succeed as we will return to power with a thumping majority.

Your party leaders, including state president Chandrakant Patil, have been repeatedly saying that Landge has been framed and is a part of a pre-planned conspiracy. Are you pointing at the NCP?

As of now, we are not pointing at anybody. Everyone knows who is behind this. We are waiting for the truth to come out.

What do you mean by truth will come out?

The ACB raid was planned with an ulterior motive to dislodge BJP from power. This is a politically motivated action and a straightforward man has fallen victim. Those who are not used to remaining out of power have been nursing a grudge against us for long and therefore, are the real brains behind all these. Facts will soon emerge before the people.

Over the years, the civic standing committee has earned a bad reputation as the “commission committee”. BJP has failed to restore its image, why?

The civic standing committee has members from all the parties. If it is doing anything wrong, then the Opposition members can always raise their voice. Since they have not done so at least during the BJP regime, it is clear that the committee’s functioning during our term has remained free of corruption.

Do none of the 16 members of the committee not take a certain percentage of the amount or commission from the contractors for allotting work or issuing work orders to them?

No, during the BJP rule, no such thing has not happened.

Do you think some drastic changes need to be brought in to make the standing committee function in a transparent manner without bribes?

Yes, there need to be discussions at all levels to keep the committee functioning free of allegations and ugly incidents.

NCP and Shiv Sena have been repeatedly alleging that BJP has committed the worst kind of corruption during its tenure. Your comment.

Since they have remained out of power for long, they are speaking out of frustration. On the contrary, we have provided a corruption-free and transparent administration.

What do you make of the demand to dissolve PCMC and appoint an administrator?

People who are desperate for power are day-dreaming.

How has the popular Landge clan of Bhosari reacted to the bribery incident?

We are all rallying behind Nitin Landge and his family. His family, including his father Dnyaneshwar Landge, who is a former MLA and has contributed immensely for the development of Bhosari and Pimpri-Chinchwad. BJP and its leaders are firmly behind them.

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