With the Congress denying a party ticket to sitting MP Suresh Kalmadi from Pune Lok Sabha seat, Deputy Chief Minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar, who has been at loggerheads with Kalmadi, is apparently taking the opportunity to gain an upper hand in local politics. On Friday, Pawar visited the Congress headquarters in the city after a gap of 15 years to address a joint meeting of Congress and NCP workers.
The Congress Bhavan, which has witnessed show of strength by Kalmadi supporters for many years, saw NCP workers raising slogans in support of Ajit Pawar. Interestingly, no leader from the Congress or NCP mentioned the name of Kalmadi at the meeting.
Several local NCP leaders were present and many Congress leaders, except legislator Vinayak Nimhan, also attended the meeting. Congress leaders who are sore over being denied a ticket were also present. Some supporters of Kalmadi also attended the meeting after a discussion with the sitting MP at his house.
“My political career started from this place. I cannot forget the old days at Congress Bhavan. This building has historical importance and has witnessed many historical events,” said Pawar in his speech.
There were reasons for his not being able to visit the Congress Bhavan in these so many years, Pawar said. “We should forget the past differences and workers of both the parties should come together to get all four candidates of the alliance in the district win the Lok Sabha elections.”
State forest minister Patangrao Kadam, father of Congress candidate Vishwajeet Kadam, said everyone should welcome the decision taken by party to give candidature to the young leader. “The party will not tolerate any wrongdoing against the official candidate. The incorrect discussion about the party candidate should be stopped,” he said adding that no leader should feel injustice has been done to them as loyal party leaders “definitely get opportunities”.
State cooperative minister and Congress leader Harshvardhan Patil said there should not be differences between the workers of both the parties. “We should work together to ensure victory of candidates put up by both the parties. Senior leaders should keep a check on party workers to avoid any wrongdoing against the candidates of each other’s party,” he added.
Sitting NCP MP Supriya Sule said the NCP is contesting in three seats while Congress is contesting in one seat in the district. “All the candidates of the alliance are young and the workers of both the parties should work hard to send all to the lok sabha,” she said.
Congress candidate Vishwajeet Kadam said “I am confident of winning, with the support of Ajit Pawar.”