Former corporator Surekha Landge,the current president of NCPs Pimpri-Chinchwad Womens Wing,had in the past contested from a civic ward meant for open category candidates. This time,Landge wants to contest from a ward (panel) reserved for OBC candidates and has,therefore,applied for a caste validity certificate with the Social Welfare Department.
Even as the nomination form filing date January 24 is nearing,Landge is worried whether she will get the certificate from the Caste Validity Committee in time. Landge has applied for Kunbhi caste certificate. I have been making rounds of the committees office in Yerawada,but they are giving no information, said Dattoba Landge,her husband.
Like Surekha,there are are as many as 214 candidates from Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad areas seeking Kunbhi certificates to contest elections from OBC panels. They have been on tenterhooks with the Caste Validity Committee taking time to issue the certificate.
The election office has also sounded caution to such candidates. We will not accept nomination forms from candidates without duly attested copies of the caste and caste validity certificates, said Baba Bagal,election officer (administration) of the PCMC. The last date for filing nomination forms is January 31. On February 1,candidates are supposed to submit the original copies of the caste and caste validity certificates, he said. Officials said if originals are not submitted,nomination forms would be rejected.
The Committee is apparently racing against time to issue the certificates. However,officials said no Kunbhi certificate has been issued so far. While we have issued over 400 other caste certificates,we are yet to issue a Kunbhi certificate, said Deepak Vadkote,committee member.
The committee has apparently begun hearings from Sunday. We plan to hear out 40 candidates each day. If their submissions are clear,they will get the certificate the next day. Otherwise it will take time, said Manisha Phule,member-secretary of the committee.
Compounding the problems for Kunbhi candidates is the opposition from the OBC Sangharsh Kruti Samiti,which has debunked the tendency among people,who earlier claimed to be upper caste,but are now changing calling themselves OBCs.
In a letter to the chiefs of political parties,the Samiti has urged them not to give candidature to fake OBCs. We urge the political parties not to give tickets to candidates who have procured Kunbhi,Kunbhi-Maratha or Maratha-Kunbhi certificates. These affluent people are doing gross injustice to OBCs and other castes, said P K Mahajan,president of the Samiti in the letter. Mahajan has demanded that parties give tickets only to authentic OBC candidates.