BJP,Shiv Sena left red-faced as she has no contestants; NCP & candidates say there was no pressure to withdraw
Shakuntala Dharade of the NCP on Friday,for all practical purposes,became the first candidate this civic polls to be elected unopposed as there are no contestants left against her in the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) polls. The fourth to be elected unopposed to PCMC since elections were first held in 1986,she is elated at bagging the panel and a bit disappointed as she was preparing for a keen contest.
Azam Pansare was the first (1986) followed by Usha Gajbar (1987) and Javed Shaikh (2007). She had filed her papers from Panel 57 (A),Pimple Gurav.
Dharade,43,who was a corporator from Pimple Gurav ward in the outgoing PCMC house,remained the lone candidate in the fray after two other candidates withdrew. One had withdrawn on Thursday and the other on Friday. Dharade was not declared elected officially as the last date for withdrawal of nomination is Saturday. Shakuntala Dharade is only candidate in the fray now. We will declare her elected only on Saturday,the last day of withdrawal of nominations, said PCMC election officer Dr Uday Tekale. Pimple Gurav is the biggest panel in PCMC with around 34,000 voters.
An elated Dharade said she was surprised. I was expecting a contest,but this is a surprise, she said. She denied she or her party had forced the other candidates to withdraw. The two other candidates,Savita Munde and Vimal Ghode,had filed their nomination papers as Independents.
I have withdrawn on my own. There was no pressure from anybody, Munde said. Ghode too said she had withdrawn on her own. Both said they had completed three-four rounds of the ward,but wanted to give Dharade a second chance as she has worked well for the area.
Many,however,attribute Dharades election to the clout MLA Laxman Jagtap in Pimple Gurav area. Jagtap said both who withdrew belong to the NCP. The party has promised them an opportunity in future. They had a change of mind probably for the partys sake, he said.
In the 2007 elections when Javed Shaikh was elected unopposed,Jagtap had played a major role which he today acknowledged.
Dharades election has embarrassed other political parties,especially the BJP,who were caught napping. The BJP was supposed to field a candidate in the panel as it was allotted to them in the Shiv Sena-BJP seat-sharing arrangement. The ward was allotted to us at the last minute. Thats why we could not field any candidate, said BJP Pimpri unit chief Eknath Pawar. The party was supposed to take a decision on an Independent candidate who had approached them. But that candidate too has withdrawn from the race. One of the candidates had approached us. We were supposed to take the final decision on Saturday, he said.
BJP leaders opposed to him said the party has shown itself in poor light by not not fielding any candidate.