As the Congress plans major election rallies on private grounds in the city, the party has expressed concern that such sites may only be made available to select political parties and is planning to seek the help of the Pune District Election Office over the issue.
Since there are no public grounds available to hold major election rallies in the heart of the city, the political parties will have to rely on grounds of private educational institutes such as SP College, Fergusson College, New English School and SSPMS College.
“We have shared our concerns with the police commissioner and will soon do so with the district election officer as private institutes are likely to give their ground to select political parties for holding election rallies, thus it won’t be a level playing field for the political parties contesting the Lok Sabha elections in the city,” said Ramesh Iyer, spokesperson of the Congress.
He said the Election Office should ensure that there is no favouritism in the way private educational institutes allow their grounds to be used by political parties.
District Collector and Election Officer Naval Kishore Ram said he has so far not been approached by any political parties with such concerns. “It is up to the private organisations to allot their ground to whomsoever they want. We can only provide the public grounds that are with us,” he said.
Ram said if the District Election Office receives any communication from political parties on favouritism in the allotment of grounds for election rallies, its officials would discuss the issue. “We haven’t decided anything about private grounds being used for election rallies. If need be, then there will be a discussion on it,” he said.
While the Mutha riverbed near the Deccan Gymkhana bus stop was once a preferred site for holding election rallies, the ongoing Metro work in the area has hampered chances of the riverbed being used for rallies this year.
The Pune Municipal Corporation has decided to make available the open spaces owned by it for election rallies, but those grounds are not big enough to hold any major rallies.