After a long wait and several round of meetings, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday announced that city chief Anil Shirole will be its candidate for Pune Lok Sabha seat. The BJP website in its sixth and final addendum list of candidates of Maharashtra made the announcement.
The run up to the announcement had Shirole and four-time MLA Girish Bapat on tenterhooks — as both had staked claim to the seat. Till late evening, both were confident of their candidature even as Shirole’s name was doing the rounds.
The name, which was to be announced on March 18, was delayed with Nitin Gadkari supporting Bapat and Gopinath Munde supporting Shirole.
According to sources in the party, the final decision came about when Gadkari was able to get his candidate, Dr Sunil Gaikwad, member state executive committee for Latur, and Munde was able to keep Pune and get his candidate Shirole for the seat. BJP president Rajnath Singh was given the responsibility to take the final call.
Even as congratulatory messages poured in for Shirole, he was waiting till it was officially announced through the media statement on the BJP website. “I want to thank all my senior leaders, from Narendra Modiji to Rajnath Singh, Munde, Gadkari, Vinod Tawade, Devendra Phadnavis, Eknath Khadse, Sudhir Mungantiwar and the city leaders for the support. We will all work as team Modi and work towards winning the Pune seat for the larger dream of seeing Modi as the Prime Minister,’’ said Shirole.
In the last Lok Sabha elections, Shirole had lost to Kalmadi by 25,000 votes and the BJP — which had put the base on elective merit — chose Shirole against Bapat. This time around, Shirole said he is doubly prepared and that the Modi wave and anti-incumbency will be in the party’s favour.
He said he would come out with a charter for the city’s improvement. It would include traffic issues, slum rehabilitation and river bed improvement programme, he said.
With Shirole’s candidature, the BJP has played the Maratha card, with the Congress and MNS also fielding candidates from the same community
Will help party win, says Girish Bapat
Four-time MLA Girish Bapat said he respected the party’s decision to field Shirole. “I will follow what my party decides and we would all work together,’’ he said. “The high command must have its reasons. When I staked claim to the seat, I expected the party to give me a chance. If the party feels that Shirole will put up a tough fight, so be it,’’ said Bapat. If he would work for the BJP candidate, he said he has been working for the party and will continue doing so. “I am not angry with anyone and will put in my best to help the party win.” If he will contest the forthcoming MLA elections, he said: “No, I won’t.”