The Congress party has raised objections to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled election rally in Akluj town of Solapur district on Wednesday (April 17), while calling it a violation of the Model Code of Conduct. The PM’s rally will take place in Akluj a day before the neighbouring Solapur Lok Sabha seat goes to the polls in the second phase of polling on April 18.
The Congress has asked the Election Office to cancel the PM’s rally as it was “against the spirit” of the Model Code of Conduct. Congress candidate Sushil Kumar Shinde said the Election Commission should “uphold its own Model Code of Conduct by scrapping the rally”. “The Election Commission should do everything possible to avoid violation of the sacred code,” he said.
However, the Prakash Ambedkar-led Vanchit Bahujan Agadhi said it has no objection with Modi’s rally. Ambedkar, who is contesting from the Solapur, said, “We have not objected to the rally as Solapur seat is more than 20 km away from Akluj town in Madha where the rally will be held. Though the rally is being held in the neighbouring seat, we don’t think it is a violation of the code.” Ambedkar further said: “We will be holding a rally after the PM’s rally the same day in Akluj. I am sure we will have more crowd than his rally.”
Solapur district Congress chief Prakash Patil, who has submitted a letter to District Collector Rajendra Bhosale, who is also the returning officer, pointed that the rally in Madha should not be permitted when campaigning in the neighbouring constituency was over. “If such a rally takes place, it will influence voters in the neighbouring constituency as well,” Patil told The Indian Express on Monday.
Patil said Madha and Solapur seats are overlapping. “Almost 40 per cent of Pandharpur taluka is in Solapur seat while 60 per cent falls in Madha seat. Pandharpur city and two Zilla Parishad circles are in Solapur while rest of Pandharpur is in Madha seat,” he said. In such a situation when the two seats are in proximity to each other, Patil asked, “how could campaigning of any sort be allowed in the neighbouring seat?”
Patil said he has approached the district collector and filed an objection with him. “But he has given me unsatisfactory reply,” Patil said. NCP leaders in Solapur district too said the rally tramples upon the poll code.
The district collector said there was no violation of code in staging the rally. “As per Section 126 of the Representation of People’s Act, campaigning is prohibited in polling area of the constituency and not in other constituency where there is no polling scheduled.”
State BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhaye crticised the Congress for opposing PM’s rally. “Congress is in the habit of creating unnecessary ruckus. It does this because it knows the kind of impact the PM’s rally has on voters. BJP is not scrapping the rally in Akluj as it does not violate the model code. The rally is being held in Madha, which is going to polls on April 23,” he said.
The Madha seat has generated a lot of heat in Maharashtra as NCP chief Sharad Pawar was slated to contest from there. He opted out at the last minute while stating that too many Pawars in the poll ring would send out a wrong signal. The BJP has gone all out to grab the seat.