Congress gives ticket to Sanatan sympathiser after opposing outfit

Madhuri Adnal

New Delhi, Mar 22: In a recent list of candidates declared by Congress, the candidature of Navinchandra Bandiwadekar from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg constituency in Maharashtra has come in for criticism after his photo on the dais of right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha and his participation in the rally organised to support Vaibhav Raut, a go-rakshak from Nallasopara, who was arrested for possessing arms, became public.

What is interesting is that Bandiwadekar's photo had appeared in an article posted by right-wing Hindu organisation Sanatan Sanstha's website.

He was seen attending a programme in September 2018 in support of a Sanatan Sanstha activist Vaibhav Raut, who was arrested in August 2018 for plotting terror attacks in Maharashtra.

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Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan said the party was aware of reports regarding Bandiwadekar. "The Congress is against extremist organisations like Sanatan Sanstha. An appropriate decision will be taken after a detailed inquiry," he said.

Sanatan Sanstha members have been accused of four bombings in Vashi, Thane and Panvel and in Goa. They are allegedly involved in the murders of rationalists and intellectuals.

Raut's home in Nalasopara on the outskirts of Mumbai was raided by the ATS on August last year and a huge cache of explosives and detonators had been recovered. The ATS had even filed a chargesheet in the case in which 12 people were arrested.

In the protests following his arrest, the Congress leader had claimed that Raut was being made a scapegoat by the police that was foisting a false case on him.

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After getting a ticket from Congress, Bandiwadekar now asserts he had never supported Sanatan Sanstha ideology.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra ally NCP has demanded that the Congress candidate is changed, calling the ticket unacceptable.

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