Two candidates – Aam Aadmi Party's Medha Patkar and BJP's Dr Heena Gavit – are in trouble and may have their candidature for the Lok Sabha elections cancelled. While a complaint has been lodged against social activist Patkar with the Election Commission of Maharashtra for concealing facts in her affidavit, Gavit is accused of violating the code of conduct since she continues to receive stipend from the government as a medical student.
Patkar is contesting the polls from North East Mumbai while Gavit, daughter of expelled NCP MLA and former medical education minister Dr Vijaykumar, is in the fray from Nandurbar.
Ahmedabad-based NGO, National Council for Civil Liberties, has asked the Election Commission to cancel Patkar's nomination and initiate a case of perjury against her. It has alleged that the social activist concealed information pertaining to the criminal cases against her, the foreign funding she received for her Narmada Bachao Andolan and shareholdings in a company.
"Patkar is a very clever woman. She has concealed several facts, including receiving foreign funds in 2002 in the name of Jan Sahyog Trust and diverting them for the Narmada Bachao Andolan," said VK Saxena, president of National Council for Civil Liberties.
Patkar remained unavailable for comment, but her associate Anil Hebbar rubbished the charges. "Patkar did not mention the company's name in the shares column because there was no scope to mention it in the affidavit. These are TVS shares valued at Rs48,000. Other disclosures were also not made due to lack of provision in the form. In the foreign funding case for Narmada Bachao Andolan, the Supreme Court had given a clean chit to Medha," he said, adding that Saxena is hounding Patkar for years with false cases. "He also attempted to kill her once," said Hebbar. He, however, said he had no clue about Patkar's affiliation with the Jan Sahyog trust.
In Gavit's case, her rivals allege that she is holding an office of profit. However, her supporters say a student cannot be regarded as someone holding an office of profit. Gavit is a final-year MD student of Grant Medical College, Mumbai, and gets Rs40,000 as stipend per month.
"The stipend is as good as government salary for doctors. And, the Constitution under Article 102 (1) (A) bars a person holding an office of profit from contesting an election unless he/she resigns from the post. Gavit has not yet resigned and hence, her nomination is liable to be rejected by the Election Commission," local advocate Atul Chavan said.
In anticipation of her nomination being rejected, Gavit's mother Dr Kaumudini Gavit has also filed her nomination papers. Dr Kaumudini had recently resigned from the Nandurbar Zilla Parishad.
The Election Commission is set to scrutinise all nominations on Monday. Any objections and complaints regarding the same can be made till 11am. The complainant may be asked to provide evidence if the candidate denies the charges.