Azam Pansare of NCP,Gajanan Babar of Shiv Sena emerge as frontrunners in the newly formed constituency
Ten years back,Gajanan Babar of the Shiv Sena and Azam Pansare of the NCP took on each other in the 1999 Assembly elections. That time,it was Babar who emerged victorious. Now the two are likely to battle it out for supremacy in the newly carved out Maval Lok Sabha constituency.
Pansare,president of the Pimpri-Chinchwad NCP and Babar,a two-time former Haveli MLA,have clearly emerged as the front-runners to don the Maval hat,especially after Manohar Joshi of the Shiv Sena and Madan Bafna of the NCP reportedly opting out of the race. Supporters of both Pansare and Babar are strongly rooting for their candidature with many of them camping in Mumbai ahead of the list getting finalised.
In 1999,Babar defeated Pansare but in 2004 he in turn was defeated by Vilas Lande of the NCP from the Haveli Assembly constituency that was part of the Baramati Lok Sabha constituency.
While the NCP is expected to declare its candidate for Maval on Wednesday,the Shiv Sena is likely to come up with a candidate on Saturday. Both the parties have been laying claim to the Maval seat from their respective allies,Congress and the BJP,well before the seat-sharing talks began.
“In 1999 I had lost the contest by barely 10,000 votes because it was a three-cornered one. The NCP and the Congress had no alliance a decade back. This time,it will be a straight contest. I will have an advantage as the Congress will be supporting my candidature,” Pansare said.
Babar is equally sure that he can repeat the 1999 results though the arena would be larger this time. “My past record of winning elections ensures that I will have little trouble in repeating the performance. The BJP too has a significant presence in Pimpri-Chinchwad,a part of Maval,” he said. Pansare,who has appeared for the party interview held in Mumbai on Tuesday,said though he got no clear indications from the party seniors,he was confident of getting the green signal. “During the interview,I was not told about my candidature being finalised. But last month when I and other leaders of Maval had met our party chief in Baramati,he had asked me to start preparations for elections straightaway,” he said.
Sena’s Pune chief Sarang Kamthekar said the district unit was pitching for Babar’s candidature. “After Manohar Joshi said no,it is Babar who has emerged the clear favourite,” said Kamthekar. “We have not sent any recommendations about Babar. In Shiv Sena,orders come straight from the top after they make enquiries with local leaders,” he said.
NCP rules Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation. In Karjat,Panvel,Khopoli municipal councils the NCP and the Congress are jointly ruling while in Uran,the Shetkari Kamgar Paksha has an upper hand. Former MLA Madan Bafna,one of the aspirants for Maval,is reportedly backing the candidature of Pansare.
Meanwhile,the Congress unit of Pimpri-Chinchwad that had been eyeing Maval,is not ready to concede that the seat will go to the NCP. “Nothing is final yet as there is final word on seat sharing with the NCP and the Congress is short listing candidates for all 48 seats in the state,” said Babu Nair,a Congress leader. The BJP too has also upped its ante,seeking Maval from Shiv Sena in lieu of Jalgaon.
* Pimpri,Chinchwad,Maval,Panvel,Karjat and Uran assembly segments come under Maval.
* 16.44 lakh voters
* Carved out of Baramati,Raigad and Khed Lok Sabha constituencies