School kids pawns in Pune political warfare?

April 5th, 2008 - 7:46 pm ICT by admin  

Pune, April 5 (IANS) A television news channel story showing children of a municipal primary school being forced to write invites for a function to felicitate city MP Suresh Kalmadi has created a flutter in the political circles here amid stout denials by the Congress MP’s aides.
The channel showed students of Dr. Ambedkar Primary School in Laxminagar copying on post cards the invitation letter written on a black board for three hours before their exam. The function is scheduled for May 1, Kalmadi’s birthday.

It said the “atrocity”, ongoing for two previous exam days allegedly at the behest of Congress civic councillor Aba Bagul, was exposed when activists of the Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena (BVS), Shiv Sena students’ wing, raided the school on the third day.

A trusted Kalmadi lieutenant, Bagul is the convener of the MP’s felicitation function.

A four-time PMC councillor and a prospective Congress candidate for the forthcoming assembly elections, Bagul told IANS that it was a well-orchestrated campaign to malign his popular image in the city.

“Getting nine-year old municipal school children to write post cards is the last thing I will do when 300 dedicated volunteers are at my beck and call,” said Bagul, who controls a number of social, cultural and religious organisations in the city.

“Two hundred of these workers have, in fact, already written and dispatched about 15,000 letters with only 2,500 remaining on the mailing list and 25 days to go before the felicitation function,” he added.

Joint Municipal Commissioner Ashok Kalamkar told IANS: “We have already issued show cause notice to the teachers concerned and are investigating the matter.”

Mahesh Ladkat, chairman of Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) education committee, assured the news channel of stern action against the school authorities.

Ladkat, who belongs to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was present during the BVS ‘raid’ along with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) youth wing office bearers Pradip Deshmukh, Sachin Tawre and Shashikant Tapkir and Shiv Sena worker Ashok Ranavat.

NCP, Shiv Sena and BJP are constituents of the ruling alliance in the PMC while Congress, which is NCP’s senior partner in Maharashtra’s ruling Democratic Front, is the main opposition party.

Deshmukh, who admitted to his presence in the school along with his NCP colleagues, however said they were in possession of several letters written by school kids.

“The school teachers told us they got the children to do the work on the PMC education officer’s instructions. We have lodged a complaint with the education committee’s deputy chairman Appa Renuse, who told us that an assistant education officer is investigating the matter,” Deshmukh said.

Bagul’s party colleague Pravin Walimbe said it is a fact that children were made to write the letters but alleged that it was the handiwork of Bagul’s political opponents who rule the civic body and all its committees.

“How could Bagul, the leader of opposition group, do it?” he asked.

Kalmadi, who is also president of the Indian Olympic Association, is away in China in connection with the upcoming World Olympics in Beijing.

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