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Baramati administration covers British-era steam engine up. Because, poll season and why not

An old — exhibitory — British-era steam engine in Maharashtra’s Baramati has been covered with a large piece of cloth — apparently, because the administration thinks public mandate can sway to the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. MNS’s election symbol is that of a railway engine.

The catch, here, is the MNS is not contesting from Baramati in the polls. The bigger catch is the MNS may not contest Lok Sabha polls at all.

To this end, Hemant Nikam, a sub-divisional officer in the constituency, told India Today TV: “We don’t want to take a risk. A railway engine is the symbol of a political party. We don’t want any complaints.”

And rightly so. Complaints may come.

Baramati is a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) stronghold — the same party that invited the MNS for an alliance in Maharashtra for the Lok Sabha polls due in April and May.

The MNS refused, much to the chagrin of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, whose daughter Supriya Sule will now be contesting from Baramati.

Not that we are drawing any conclusion.

The developments come in the backdrop of the Election Commission of India (ECI) inducting the Model Code of Conduct under which public spaces cannot be monopolised by a few candidates — to avert communal clashes and corrupt practices.

Model Code of Conduct comes into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission for the need of ensuring free and fair elections.

This year, the Model Code of Conduct was brought into force with effect from March 10 — for the Lok Sabha polls that stretch from April 11, 2019 to May 19, 2019.

The counting of the votes will be held on May 23, 2019.

Maharashtra goes to polls in four phases — scheduled to be held on April 11, April 18, April 23 and April 29.


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