Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has been asked by the powerful Election Commission to explain a remark that appeared to urge people in Maharashtra to accept bribes for their votes. “Take money from all, but vote for development,” Mr. Gadkari reportedly said yesterday while campaigning in the state which chooses its next government on the 15th (results will be declared on the 19th).
Mr. Gadkari’s party, the BJP, swept the national election in May with then prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi pledging economic reform, creation of jobs, and corruption-free governance; in Maharashtra, the BJP’s partnership with the Shiv Sena delivered the combination’s strongest-ever performance, winning 41 of the state’s 48 parliamentary seats. So the decision late last month by the BJP to end the alliance confounded many. Since then, Shiv Sea chief Uddhav Thackeray has accused the BJP of betrayal. The BJP says it wanted more seats than Mr. Thackeray was willing to share.
According to the Election Commission, Mr. Gadkari said, “You have an opportunity of “Laxmi darshan” in the next 10 days…keep whatever you get…but think while you vote. Your vote should be for the development of Maharashtra.”
Mr. Gadkari has been asked to provide his defense by 5 pm on Wednesday.