The State Election Commission has not yet declared the dates for the Maharashtra elections though the elections are likely to be on October-November. “I am not waiting for the announcement for election dates, my campaigning has started from today. I will try to meet each and every voter…,” said Bhoir. While several aspirants from different parties in Chinchwad, Pimpri and Bhosari have begun attending meetings of self-help groups and public functions, a president of a party openly canvassing for votes much before EC’s official declaration of the election dates is unusual, said an NCP leader.
The Chinchwad assembly constituency is represented by Laxman Jagtap who contested as an independent in 2009 and later became an associate MLA of NCP. In the 2009 assembly elections, the Chinchwad seat — which came into being for the first time — was allotted to the Congress as per the seat-sharing arrangement between the two alliance partners. Bhoir had contested as a Congress-NCP alliance candidate. However, Jagtap, who was till then in NCP, rebelled and contested as an independent. Jagtap defeated Shrirang Barne in a closely fought poll.
Bhoir said that even if seat is allotted to the Congress, leaders of the ally do not practise ‘alliance dharma’. “As a result in the last election, though I was the official candidate of Congress-NCP, the NCP rebel candidate jumped into the fray and drew support from his party cadre. The result was there for everyone to see as I lost. I was banking on NCP as it was Congress’s alliance partner, but the party leaders and workers in
Pimpri-Chinchwad clearly worked against me,” said Bhoir. Having learnt ‘lessons’ from the last election, Bhoir said he would contest even if he is not fielded by his party. “If the Congress does not field me, I will contest the election as an independent,” he said. Bhoir said that he has been with the party for 25 years and questioned how long he was supposed to stay as a corporator. “For 20 years, I have been a corporator looking after a specified area. I want to work for a larger constituency and hence would not back down from contesting this time,” he said.
Bhoir is also not confident that the seat will be contested by Congress this time. “The seat-sharing talks are yet to begin. I am not sure, the seat will be contested by Congress. But it won’t matter to me. I will still contest,” he said.
Bhoir has not even applied for the party’s ticket. “I am not applying because I believe the party will field me,” he said. A couple of leaders from Pimpri-Chinchwad have taken the form for a party ticket from the Congress headquarters.
Congress leaders said Bhoir knew that he would not get the party ticket or was aware that the seat would go to NCP. “He knows his chances are bleak because he lost badly last time. Congress might field a fresh face if the seat is allotted to them. All these seem to be pressure tactics from Bhoir to get a party ticket,” said a Congress leader. However, Bhoir said that by starting early, he has got a head-start over others.
If the Congress contests the Chinchwad seat, Bhoir faces competition from Azam Pansare for the party ticket. Pansare, who was with NCP, joined the Congress before the recent Lok Sabha elections. But, he did not contest the Lok Sabha election as the Maval seat was allotted to NCP. However, Bhoir said that Pansare would not contest assembly seat. “Pansare has told me that he would not contest the assembly seat. Therefore, there is actually no strong leader from Congress vying for the ticket other than me. Those who are trying are non-entities,” he said.
From the saffron alliance, the Chinchwad seat would be contested by the Shiv Sena. It has several aspirants including Bhagwan Walherkar, Nana Kate, Moreshwar Bhondve and Mayur Kalate. NCP too has several contenders but with Jagtap showing his intention to contest as NCP-PWP-Congress candidate, the NCP might go with him, sources said.