TWO DAYS ahead of the Palghar Lok Sabha bypoll, an audio clip of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis purportedly urging party workers to leave no stone unturned to win the election has the Opposition up in arms. While Fadnavis on Saturday claimed that his words had been distorted, Opposition parties urged the Election Commission (EC) to act against the CM.
In the audio clip, released by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at a rally in Palghar on Friday night, Fadnavis is purportedly heard asking BJP workers to use “saam, daam, dand, bhed (negotiation, money, punishment and division)” to win the May 28 bypoll.
“If somebody is challenging our existence in Palghar and has betrayed our trust, backstabbed us, while calling itself our ally, then they should be taught a lesson. We should not be sitting quiet now. We should also launch a big attack and show them what the BJP is,” Fadnavis is purportedly heard telling BJP workers.
“If we want to win this election, then an answer has to be given in the same measure… Give an answer by using saam, daam, dand, bhed… Do not tolerate anybody’s bullying. On the contrary, bully them… I will stand behind you,” he is heard saying.
After releasing the audio, Thackeray urged the EC to act against Fadnavis.
The CM, however, on Saturday alleged that Sena had edited the clip. Speaking at a rally at Vasai taluka, Fadnavis said: “The 14-minute audio clip, which Sena is referring to, has been distorted. They have cleverly selected only two lines. But the reference and context before and after these words — saam, dam, danda, bhed — have been removed.”
“My last sentence in the clip was that we are in power, but we will never misuse it. This line they never released. Had they shown it, their claims would have fallen flat,” he added. Fadnavis went on to release a 14-minute audio clip, claiming that this was the complete version of the “distorted” clip released by Thackeray.
Maintaining that he was ready to face action if what he said was found inappropriate, Fadnavis said: “The Sena’s design is understandable, as it wants to score a political point by tarnishing my party’s image… I have decided to present the entire clip before the EC. If there is any wrongdoing, let the EC take action against me. But at the same time, if it is proved the clip was distorted, Thackeray should face action.”
Accusing Sena leader Adesh Bandekar of “working on the audio clip”, Fadnavis said: “Bandekar is a chairman of Siddhivinayak Temple Trust. He should not have indulged in dirty tricks.”
“Every worker knows I am always conscious of what I say. I would never say things that are against our principles,” he later told mediapersons.
Seeking clarification from the CM, state Congress chief Ashok Chavan said: “The EC should act. If there is any wrongdoing, we demand the CM’s resignation… If what the CM says is right, it calls for strict action against Thackeray… The Shiv Sena and BJP’s battle for upmanship has turned into a gang war.”
NCP spokesperson Nawab Mallik, demanding a probe by the EC, said: “It is a serious matter. There cannot be any justification. We demand that the CM be booked under Section 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the IPC…”