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Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar has said the Pune Police and civic authorities were free to take action against “unauthorised” hoardings from party supporters that had come up in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad ahead of his birthday.

The birthday greetings were seen throughout Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad, wishing Pawar and Leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, who share a birthday on July 22, despite both leaders urging their supporters not to do so.

Pawar, who is also the guardian minister of Pune district, said he never asked the workers to put up the hoardings. “I am a man who always abides by the rules. If these hoardings are illegal, then concerned officials from the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation [PCMC], which is ruled by the BJP, should initiate action immediately,” said Pawar.

With the hoardings, supporters of the two leaders were seen trying to indulge in a game of one-upmanship. While the banners by BJP supporters and party workers seemed to refer to Fadnavis as the “architect of new Pune” and the “development man”, Pawar’s followers have propped billboards calling him an “administrator par excellence”.

The hoardings come ahead of the civic body polls due in February next year for which all major parties are gearing up for a fierce fight, especially in the crucial Mumbai, Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporations.

The contest has already heated up with Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole’s repeated declarations that his party, despite being in an alliance with the Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in the State government, would go it alone.

Recently, Sena MP Sanjay Raut, too, had said the Sena would win the mayoral post in the PCMC — considered Pawar’s bastion — by winning 50 seats in the upcoming election.

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