With high stakes riding on the Palghar Lok Sabha by-elections, both the BJP and Shiv Sena are leaving no stone unturned. Targeting Fadnavis for allegedly encouraging BJP workers to use corrupt practices to win the elections, Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Friday released an audio clip in which the chief minister can be heard encouraging workers to use ‘sam, dam, dand and bhed’ to win the elections, which means ‘win by hook or by crook’.
In return, the CM, on Saturday, the last day of campaigning, accused Sena of releasing “tampered and incomplete” tape. He released the “complete tape” in which he can be heard saying, “We should pay the Opposition back in its own coin, which means use ‘sam, dam, dand, bhed and reply in the same language, but we should not cross the Laxman rekha. We are the party in power and we will not misuse it to win elections.”
Fadnavis said, “I myself will submit the audio tape to the Election Commission. If the EC finds me guilty of poll code violation, then I am ready to face whatever punishment is handed to me.” The Sena is resorting to dirty tricks as it’s sensing its defeat, he added. He also compared Thackeray with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Akbaruddin Owaisi for his remarks about removing police protection given to BJP leaders to teach them a lesson. “I can still move around without any protection but some people (Uddhav) move in protection detail which is even greater than mine. It is your party leaders who come begging to me for giving them police protection.”
For the by-election, the chief minister has so far addressed five rallies, with one attended by top leaders such as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Bhojpuri actor and Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari. From Sena’s side, its sole star campaigner Uddhav Thackeray has addressed four rallies and held road shows.
The Palghar by-election has been necessitated by the death of sitting BJP MP Chintamani Vanga in January this year. The Sena is contesting an election against the BJP for the first time since 2014 assembly elections and it has fielded Vanga’s son Shrinivas. The voting for Palghar and Bhandra-Gondia Lok Sabha seats in the state will take place on May 28, with the counting on May 31.