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GEETA Mancharkar and Sheetal Kate, who have been elected as corporators of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) last week, share some things in common, while differing on other fronts. Both stayed focused and wanted to win the battle, and had a few scores to settle, which they ultimately did in their own style, making a statement.
Both belong to Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and have been elected for the second consecutive term to the PCMC.
Geeta Mancharkar is fondly addressed as ‘bhabhi’, the Hindi version of sister-in-law, in Kharalwadi and neighbouring areas of the panel. While Sheetal Kate is popular known as ‘Vahini’ in local parlance in the upmarket Pimple-Saudagar and nearby areas.
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While Geeta won from the biggest panel 9 comprising Kharalwadi, Nehrunagar, Ajmera, Masulkar Colony, Swapnanagari areas, which is populated by local Maharashtrians, Sheetal won from the upmarket Pimple Saudagar-Rahatini areas where 80 per cent population comprises people from other states.
As the similarities screech to a halt, the uneven battle they fought on the poll terrain comes to fore.
While ‘bhabhi’ fought from the panel having highest number of voters at 49,000, ‘Vahini’ had much lesser voter count at 36,000.
The Geeta Mancharkar family put everything at stake to win the battle as it had become a prestige issue for them. Similarly, all eyes were on Sheetal Kate whether she would repeat the success of 2012 elections when she had won with a record margin of over 9,000 votes.
Right from the start, her rivals made life miserable for Geeta. First, they raised severe objections against her nominations with poll officials.
The objections were, however, rejected. Then, during campaigning, her rivals burst crackers near her house and created a ruckus. “Before voting, they did everything to influence voters but came a cropper,” said Mancharkar.
And much before the elections, Mancharkar, who headed PCMC’s Women and Child Welfare Department, was allegedly beaten up and her husband, advocate Sushil Mancharkar, was also targeted. In a closely-fought battle, Geeta won by a margin of over 1,500 votes.
Sheetal Kate had a point to prove. Some attributed her 2012 victory to NCP wave. However, in the BJP’s wave of February 2017, ‘Vahini’ notched up a comfortable victory by a margin of 4,101 votes, giving a strong riposte to her detractors. Her victory is more significant as in the same panel, BJP candidate Shatrughan Kate won by a record margin of 7,471 reflecting the upper hand of BJP in the area. “I had little doubt about my victory. Whoever the rivals were, I was going to win. I am happy but the ouster of NCP from PCMC is hurting…,” said Sheetal.
Sheetal’s husband Nana Kate also won from the same panel making them the only couple-corporators of PCMC. Geeta Mancharkar’s husband, Sushil, was her poll manager.
Now, both have a job in hand. While Sheetal wants to set up swimming pools, a sports complex and increase gardens in her area, Geeta wants to focus on congested areas of her panel where she wants to improve the state of roads and sanitation facilities. “Our panel is our home,” they said.