NCP leader Yogesh Behl, who is contesting PCMC polls for the sixth time, has emerged as the richest NCP candidate among those who have held key posts in the civic body during the party’s rule in the last 10 years. According to the affidavit filed by Behl with the PCMC election office, his collective wealth stands at Rs 80 crore, which includes movable assets worth Rs 33 crore and immovable assets worth Rs 47 crore. A long time resident of Vallabhnagar area in Pimpri-Chinchwad, Behl is known in political circles as the “right hand man of his boss Ajit Pawar”. Behl has held the post of mayor, NCP House leader and chairperson of the civic standing committee. Behl has also been instrumental in picking candidates for his party during the elections. He has won elections for five consecutive terms from Vallabhnagar-Sant Tukaramnagar area. This time, he is contesting from Kasarwardi-Sant Tukaramnagar area.
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According to his affidavit, Behl owns agricultural and non-agricultural land in Pimpri-Chinchwad, Pune city and outside the limits of Pimpri-Chinchwad. The affidavit identifies his immovable properties in Bhosari, Akurdi, Moshi, Baner, Ravet, Mulshi, Wadgaon, Chakan and Bopkhel. He also owns land in Baramati, the hometurf of Pawar family. He has a bungalow in Vallabhnagar area. The affidavit states that Behl has around Rs 33-crore worth of movable assets and Rs 47 crore in immovable assets. His annual family income is pegged at Rs 3.31 crore.
When contacted, Behl said his actual investment was Rs 27 crore. “But as per the current market value, the worth of the property is Rs 80 crore. Besides, I have a loan of Rs 24 crore,” he said, adding he had bought those properties years back and today their worth has shot up. Behl said he owns three industrial units and four vehicles. On two vehicles, he said loan has been cleared while on other two, the loan is outstanding. Behl’s long-time rival Yashwant Bhosale, who is again contesting against the NCP leader, said, “Behl had been a worker with an industrial unit two decades back. And now he owns huge properties. The transformation in his fortunes is baffling…,” he said.
BJP general secretary Sarang Kamtekar said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was in town on Thursday, has already promised to launch an investigation into “NCP activities”. Kamtekar said the rise in wealth of Behl and other NCP leaders shows “what all had been happening in the NCP regime in Pimpri-Chinchwad”. “Behl has shown his wealth as Rs 80 crore, it could actually be more than that,” Kamtekar alleged. Behl said there is nothing illegal about his wealth. “Each and every penny has been accounted for. My accounts are regularly audited. I pay over Rs 4 crore tax,” he said, adding that he had been honest in his dealings.
Apart from Behl, other top NCP leaders who have held important posts in PCMC include Mangala Kadam, Ajit Gavahne, Prashant Shitole and Atul Shitole. Mangala Kadam and Prashant Shitole are former mayors. Gavahane, Prashant Shitole and Atul Shitole have held the chairmanship of the standing committee. All have properties running into crores, as per their affidavits.
Mangala Kadam, who was the NCP House leader in the outgoing PCMC general body, has properties worth around Rs 5 crore. Prashant Shitole, who is contesting as an independent, has property worth Rs 8 crore, Gavahane Rs 5 crore and Atul Shitole over Rs 3 crore. When contacted, the family of Mangala Kadam said there are several ancestral properties whose worth has escalated over the years. “What is bothersome is that the Election Commission has directed candidates to mention the purchase price of vehicles. Though a vehicle purchased years back has depreciated in value, the EC says candidates should mention their purchase price which is a wrong practice,” the family said.