The declaration of Vishwajeet Kadam as the Congress candidate from Pune is being seen as a sign of the dwindling fortunes of sitting MP Suresh Kalmadi. It also marks the beginning of the end of his ‘monopoly’ over the party and the city for decades.
Kalmadi caught the attention of party leaders in his young days. He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1996 and then in 2004 and 2009. The Congress had sent him to Rajya Sabha thrice prior to his entry in LS, and his closeness to the leadership ensured him a ministry in the Union government. He was the minister of state for railways in 1995-96.
He was made the chief of city Youth Congress in 1977 and soon held the charge of National Youth Congress for five years. His hold on the Indian Olympic Association came as handy for him in his political career, but also caused his debacle.
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Interestingly, he took over the charge of local Congress from veteran leader Vitharao Gadgil, who won the seat consecutive for three times on a party ticket. “It was not possible for any newcomer with no political background to reach such heights in politics. It was only the capabilities of Kalmadi that were responsible for his growth,” said a Congress leader close to Kalmadi.
“We made efforts to get him back in the party by sending requests to senior party leaders, but it didn’t work. Kalmadi has a network in every class in the city and gave a tough time to the NCP, which has been trying hard to take charge of city politics,” he added.
Kalmadi’s ouster would affect the party performance in the city, but hopefully the party would come out of it with the young leadership of Kadam, he said.