With four of the 545 seats Lok Sabha from Pune district, the election battleground is all set to witness a tough fight between the Congress-NCP alliance and National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Not to be left behind are MNS and AAP, which are also gearing up to make an entry into the Lok Sabha by contesting from the district.
In 2009, the Sena had managed to win two seats in Pune district, while the NCP and Congress won one seat each. It was seen as a big setback for the Congress and NCP as Pune was considered their bastion.
The Sena got Shivajirao Adhalrao-Patil from Shirur and Gajanan Babar from Maval, while Supriya Sule — daughter of NCP chief Sharad Pawar — represented Baramati seat. Suresh Kalmadi had won on Congress ticket from the Pune city seat. However, Kalmadi was later suspended by the party over the allegations of corruption in Commonwealth Youth Games, but continued as city MP.
Now, the political situation has changed, with sitting candidate struggling to retain seats. In Pune, the allegations against Kalmadi and factionalism in Congress with many aspirants have come as a shot in the arm for Opposition parties, who are eyeing the seat. The BJP — which is contesting the Pune seat as per seat-sharing arrangement in the NDA — is also unable to decide its candidate. The MNS has high hopes for the Pune seat due to its increased presence in the local civic body, but is yet to announce its candidate.
The contest for Baramati holds importance as it is the home turf of Sharad Pawar, who is not contesting the polls. The Opposition is trying to put up a fight in Baramati by allowing Rashtriya Samaj Paksha to contest by uniting all anti-NCP parties. The concern for NCP is that it has only one legislator of the total six from the Assembly seats falling in the Baramati constituency. Of the six legislators, two are from Congress, one each from NCP, Shiv Sena, BJP and an Independent.
In Shirur, two-time Sena MP Adhalrao-Patil will have to struggle for retaining the seat by taking on NCP candidate. The NCP had made a lot of efforts in 2009 to defeat Adhalrao-Patil but could not manage to outnumber the popularity of the Sena leader.
The fight for Maval in 2009 was an opportunity for all parties to establish their hold as after delimitation, the constituency was spread in Raigad district of Konkan region and Pune district. But the Sena got an upper hand with Babar winning the seat.
This year, political parties are cautious over deciding the candidate and are waiting for the opponent’s name to be announced.