Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today said he had submitted the original audio clip, in which he is heard exhorting the BJP workers to win the Palghar Lok Sabha bypoll using “saam, daam, dand, bhed” (negotiation, money, punishment and division), to the Election Commission (EC). The audio clip is at the centre of a row between the BJP and parties like the Shiv Sena, Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which have condemned the language and the aggressive tone of Fadnavis in it. Voting for the bypoll will be held tomorrow.
Speaking to reporters at the BJP’s Dadar office, Fadnavis said he had submitted the original audio clip to the EC and demanded action against those who had allegedly edited it for political gains. “I have sent the original clip to the EC and requested them to verify it with the clip they have received from other political parties. The EC can take action against me, but I would request it to take action against those who, on purpose, edited the clip for political gains.
“It is a 14-minute clip and if you go through it, the truth will come out,” he said. Earlier in the day, state Congress general secretary and spokesperson Sachin Sawant lodged a complaint over the audio clip with the returning officer for the bypoll. Hitting out at Fadnavis, Sawant said, “EC officials should probe the words of Fadnavis as he is claiming to use the law enforcement agencies, money, divisive tactics and muscle power in the Palghar bypoll. The EC should probe what exactly did Fadnavis mean when he talked about the use of muscle and money power.”
The Congress leader told reporters that he had submitted the audio clip in a pen drive to the EC officials. Accusing the chief minister of resorting to “dadagiri”, he alleged that BJP workers were guilty of poll code violations as they had put up illegal hoardings and distributed money in the run-up to the bypoll.
Sawant alleged that Fadnavis had broken the Model Code of Conduct for elections on earlier occasions as well, but there was no “satisfactory” action against him. “People are wondering whether the EC is working under pressure from the BJP government,” he said. Leaders of the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, a contender in the Palghar bypoll, also accompanied Sawant when he met the EC officials to lodge the complaint against the chief minister.