A candidate who is facing criminal charges under the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous (MPD) Act, and is lodged in Kolhapur jail, has filed his nomination papers for the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) polls. The candidate, Arvind Sable, filed his papers amid tight police security from the Chinchwad panel. According to Sable’s affidavit, he has several cases pending in court against him.
Sable was brought from Kolhapur jail to the election office after he had sought the court’s permission to file his nomination papers, said Deputy Commissioner of Police Ganesh Shinde. “Those who have cases pending in court have a democratic right to contest the election… we cannot stop them,” he said.
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Of the 773 candidates in the fray in PCMC elections, there are as many as 214 candidates who are facing one or more criminal charges. Expressing concern about Sable’s candidacy, advocate Sushil Mancharkar said a person arrested under the MPD Act is suspected of indulging in dangerous activities and is “a serious threat to society”. “Such persons are arrested and incarcerated for one year,” said Mancharkar.
PCMC election chief Yashwant Mane said, “The details on the candidates’ backgrounds, vis-a-vis the party they belong to, will be put up at the polling booths on the day of voting. The voters will be allowed to go through them”. However, political parties seem to be in denial about the issue. NCP leader Ajit Pawar claimed that the party has fielded candidates who have been already acquitted in criminal cases. “If a person has been acquitted, he has the right to contest elections,” said Pawar.
The BJP, which has fielded a candidate involved in a murder case, said the candidate concerned has been acquitted. Meanwhile, the PCMC on Friday released figures pertaining to the educational qualification of the candidates contesting from 32 panels. As many as 414 male candidates and 360 women candidates are in the fray. One candidate, Ravi Landge, has already been declared elected unopposed from Bhosari.
Of the 773 candidates, only one has completed his PhD, while as many as 260 candidates have not even passed Class 10. According to the election affidavits filed by them, 135 candidates have passed Class 10. Similarly, there are 46 post-graduate candidates and 147 graduate candidates; 150 candidates said they have completed their Class 12. Ten candidates have not undergone any formal education.
Meanwhile, police said they have externed as many as 63 criminals from the PCMC’s jurisdiction to ensure free and fair polls. On measures taken to maintain law and order on election day, Additional Commissioner of Police Shashikant Shinde said 373 polling booths and 88 centres have been identified as ‘sensitive’.
“We have taken all possible steps to ensure peaceful polling across Pimpri-Chinchwad on February 21 and on counting day, February 23… Adequate police force has been deployed to avoid any kind of trouble,” he said. If an untoward incident is reported from any spot, a police team would reach that particular place within 5-7 minutes, said Shinde.
Meanwhile, Municipal Commissioner Dinesh Waghmare said the PCMC has gone all out to increase voter awareness. “In the 2012 elections, the overall voting percentage was only 52 per cent. But this time, we are expecting around 70 per cent voting,” he said, adding that the civic body has carried out awareness campaigns through newspapers, electronic media and social media.