Bigwigs in Pimpri-Chinchwad who have won civic elections for consecutive terms will once again be putting their popularity to test as they get ready for the poll pitch. So smashing has their past record been that their victory in the February elections is being considered by political watchers as a forgone conclusion. In the process,they are all set to create new poll records on the industrial terrain of Pimpri-Chinchwad where poll fever is rising by the day. While one of these will be in the fray for the sixth time,others will fight for the fourth or fifth term.
R S Kumar,senior-most PCMC corporator,holds a unique record of having won five consecutive civic elections. He is folding up his sleeves for the sixth time to try his luck from Nigdi-Pradhikaran area. A former mayor,Kumar,is seeking NCP ticket again from panel 14 (Bhakti Shakti Udyan). In the past,I won elections with comfortable margins. This time will be no different, says Kumar. There are at least two more strong claimants for NCP tickets. But Kumar is not worried. I am confident of getting the ticket, he says,refusing to reveal whether he would rebel if denied the ticket.
The current mayor,Yogesh Behl,is set to fight his fifth consecutive election from Sant Tukaram Nagar-Vallabhnagar area. For the past four times,my victory margin has been around 1,000 or over 1,000 votes. This time,it will be by over 2,000 votes, says Behl,considered as the right hand man of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.
Behl defeated Yeshwant Bhosale thrice in the past and Rajesh Wable once. Now,Bhosale is also seeking an NCP ticket. I dont know about him… but I am surely contesting, says Behl.
Former deputy mayor Amar Moolchandani will be in the fray for the fifth consecutive time from Pimpri area (Panel 44,Ashok Theatre). He too had easy victories in Pimpri. He is the only Congress leader who has won so many elections currently. There is speculation about Moolchandani joining the NCP,but he remains mum. For now,I have taken the Congress form to contest on its ticket, he says. He is likely to face a challenge from the current deputy mayor,Dabbu Aswani. Another Congress leader,Hanumant Bhosale,a former mayor who had won five elections,has opted out in favour of his son from Nehrunagar area.
Shiv Sena leader Shrirang Barne,a former Congressman,has won four elections from Thergaon area. Three have been on a Congress ticket. He would be fielded by the Sena this time. His election has been one-of-its-kind in Pimpri-Chinchwad. Almost every time he has contested,there has been only one rival against him. Except for once,in the three previous elections,there has been one candidate against me. Yet I won by huge margins, says Barne,fondly addressed as Appa.
Mangala Kadam,who created a record for attending thousands of functions during her tenure as mayor,will be in the fray from either Sambhajinagar or Krushnanagar area. There are three claimants for NCP ticket,including Supriya Chandgude,the wife of NCP strongman Mahesh Chandgude,in the area. I am not underestimating anybody. I am keeping my fingers crossed and hope to do well, said Kadam.
The likes of Mai Dhore from Sangvi and Ram Adhar Dharia from Pimpri or Kalewadi,who too won consecutive elections,will also be keenly watched.