Maharashtra Deputy CM and state finance minister Ajit Pawar.
Maharashtra Deputy CM and state finance minister Ajit Pawar.Photo | ANI

No violation of model code in Ajit Pawar's ‘funds for votes' remarks: Poll officials

Ajit Pawar, while addressing a rally, committed substantial funds conditioned on widespread support in voting, implying funding constraints otherwise.

PUNE: The returning officer of Baramati Lok Sabha constituency has filed a report stating that there was no prima facie evidence of Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar violating the Model Code of Conduct through his “funds for votes” remarks.

The Sharad Pawar-led NCP(SP) had filed a complaint against Ajit Pawar with the Election Commission of India alleging the violation of the Model Code of Conduct and the Representation of the People Act.

At a poll rally at Indapur in Baramati constituency, Ajit Pawar recently said, “...As far as funds are concerned, we will cooperate to give you as much as you want, but at the same time, the EVM button needs to be pressed in abundance. If the EVM button is pressed in abundance, I will also feel good allocating funds, or else, I will have to restrict myself.”

Pawar holds the finance portfolio in the state.

The remarks had drawn criticism from the opposition, with NCP(SP) moving EC seeking action against Ajit Pawar, who heads the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

Kavita Dwivedi, returning officer of Baramati, said they launched a probe after receiving the complaint and sought Ajit Pawar's response.

Dwivedi confirmed that she has submitted a report to the Chief Election Officer stating that she had gone through the video of Ajit Pawar's speech and there was no violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

“The remarks in the video do not mention the name of a particular candidate for whom votes have been sought. He is heard saying that press the buttons of ‘our' machine so that he can allocate the funds. Here the word machine is universal and he is not talking about a particular candidate or his candidate or party," said Dwivedi.

Speaking to PTI, Pune Collector Suhas Diwase, who is also the District Election Officer, said that the Baramati returning officer in her report had stated that there was no violation of the Model Code of Conduct in this case.

He added that the report was submitted to the Chief Election Officer two days ago.

Ajit Pawar's wife Sunetra, an NCP candidate, is locked in a high-profile electoral battle in the Baramati Lok Sabha constituency with her sister-in-law and sitting MP Supriya Sule.

Sharad Pawar's daughter Sule has been nominated by the NCP (SP). Baramati will go to polls in the third phase of the general elections on May 7.

While the NCP is a part of the BJP-led Mahayuti alliance, which also comprises the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena, in Maharashtra, NCP (SP) belongs to the opposition coalition Maha Vikas Aghadi. The Congress and Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) are the other constituents of MVA.

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