Vikrant Chavan, a corporator who was charged for abetting the suicide of builder Suraj Parmar, will square up against Shiv Sena’s high-profile MLA Pratap Sarnaik’s in Thane. The Congress has nominated Chavan to contest against Sarnaik from Oval-Majiwada seat in the region.
In 2015, Chavan, along with three other corporators, was charged by the police for the builder’s suicide after “the builder had left behind a 13-page long suicide note blaming these politicians and civic officials for mental harassment and demanding payoffs”. The other corporators were Najeeb Mulla, Hanumant Jagdale (both from the NCP), and Sudhakar Chavan (formerly Maharashtra Navnirman Sena).
The police claimed that the four, who were arrested, were made accused in the case after forensic tests on the builder’s note, in which he had struck out the names of the politicians after mentioning them.
Parmar, who was counted as being among the leading builders in Thane, had shot himself dead on October 7, 2015. The four corporators, who were charged with abetment of suicide, criminal misconduct and bribery under sections of the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act, were jailed in the case, and continue to face trial.
But Chavan, who filed his nomination for the seat on Friday, said that he was a “victim of vendetta”. “This is a political case. They (the investigators) have failed to prove that I had done any wrong. All I did was raise valid issued against irregularities in Parmar’s projects on the floor of the House and filed a public litigation in the matter. That is no reason for someone to die,” he said. Chavan added that he wasn’t worried that his (political) opponents will target him over the case.
“I won the civic election (in 2017) which clearly points to the work that I have done. I’m not a criminal. No one would have voted for me otherwise,” he said. Chavan is one of Congress’ three corporators in Thane municipality. Mulla and Jagdale had also won in 2017.
Ironically, months after his win in the civic poll, investigators accused him of holding disproportionate assets as part of the same case. “The Bombay High Court has stayed the filing of the chargesheet in the disproportionate assets matter,” Chavan said, reiterating that he was being targetted as a part of “political vendetta”.
Sarnaik, whose family is also into the construction business, is a two-term MLA from the constituency. Chavan, who is seen as Sarnaik’s arch-rival in the region, alleged that despite representing the region for 10 years on a trot, he had neglected infrastructural development in the region, which has seen a flurry of high-rise constructions in the last few years.
Claiming that people in the constituency were aware that he has been wrongly framed in the case, Chavan, meanwhile, claimed that he would run a development-centric election campaign. “My party (Congress) wanted me to contest the poll. The party is going through a challenging period, and I did not want to run away from the responsibility,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a last-minute change in candidature, the Congress has nominated Sanjay Ghadigaonkar, a former Congress corporator who had joined the BJP in 2016, as its candidate from Kopri-Pachpakhadi seat against senior Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra’s Public Health department minister Eknath Shinde.
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