With the Aam Aadmi Party finalising Subhash Ware as its candidate for the Pune Lok Sabha constituency, he will get sufficient time to campaign. The Congress and the BJP who have fought a pitched battle in the city in the past are, however, either struggling to zero in on a candidate or deliberately not revealing the name to avoid any discontent in the party rank and file. The situation is no different in other constituencies of Pune district.
The Congress seems to be in a real dilemma as it has to make its presence felt in Pune district where it has only the Pune Lok Sabha constituency in its kitty as per its seat-sharing arrangements with alliance partner NCP. The other three seats — Maval, Shirur and Baramati — are with the NCP.
Since Congress leaders have ruled out his chances of getting a party nomination, siting MP Suresh Kalmadi is trying hard to get a ticket for his wife Meera Kalmadi or any other member of his family.
The Kalmadi camp said if nobody from the family got the ticket, Kalmadi might contest as an Independent.
An undecided Congress is looking for what leaders said a “strong candidate”. There are several claimants like Mohan Joshi, Vinayak Nimahan, Deepak Mankar, Ulhas Pawar and Kamal Vyavahare. But, party leaders said, they needed someone to match the “popularity” Kalmadi enjoyed before he was suspended by the party for his alleged involvement in the 2010 Commonwealth Games scam.
On the other hand, BJP is witnessing a keen tussle between its MLA Girish Bapat and party’s city chief Anil Shirole, with both staking claim for the party ticket. BJP’s national spokesperson Prakash Javadekar is in the race too.
“Bapat and Shirole are the prominent party members who have demanded a nomination from Pune,” said Eknath Khadse, who heads the BJP’s Scrutiny Committee.
In Maval, the NCP has sort of given its nod to MLA Laxman Jagtap. However, the party is also mulling the possibility of fielding state minister Sunil Tatkare who too has expressed interest in contesting from Maval. Jagtap has, however, already started his campaign. On Saturday, he celebrated his birthday by placing advertisements worth over Rs 50 lakh in local newspapers and putting up banners and posters not only in his constituency, but in Pune city too.
In Maval, Shiv Sena has to make a choice between sitting MP Gajanan Babar and corporator Shrirang Barne, who is already projecting himself as the Sena candidate who would take on Jagtap.
Sena leaders said Barne might get the nod as Babar had not been keeping well and the party leadership was looking for “younger leaders”.
AAP has a popular face in its Pune coordinator Maruti Bhapkar in Maval, but the party is yet to declare his nomination. Unlike Subhash Ware, Bhapkar has contested elections before. He had been a corporator with the PCMC and had lost civic elections twice. In 2009, he had contested from Maval and drawn eyeballs campaigning “bare foot” in the sweltering heat.
In Shirur, NCP has reportedly decided to field Devdutt Nikam, chairman of the Bhimashanker cooperative sugar factory, against two-time Sena MP Shivajirao Adhalrao-Patil. Several of its top leaders from the region, such as Vilas Lande and Dilip Walse-Patil, refused to contest. In Baramati, NCP has left no doubt that sitting MP Supriya Sule will seek re-election while the Sena is considering fielding sitting Purandar MLA Vijay Shivtare.