IN the run-up to the high-stakes battle for the Pune Municipal Corporation and the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, political parties had embarked on a mission of sorts to “import” senior leaders from other parties. Even after it attracted some negative publicity over it, the BJP kept at this “mission”. Opposition parties had often taunted the BJP on this issue, saying its “import business was doing well” In the PMC, the BJP managed to get 13 such leaders elected to the civic body in its tally of 98 corporators. In the PCMC, as many as 25 “imports” of the BJP won.
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The BJP had entrusted Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Kakade with the task of roping in probable candidates. The party managed to attract sitting corporators from the MNS, NCP and Congress to the fold. Of the many ‘imported’ candidates, the BJP has got 13 elected to the PMC, while the NCP and the Shiv Sena each got one ‘imported’ candidate elected.
Winning candidates who had defected to the BJP from other parties include former MNS leaders Prakash Dhore and Raju Laygude, former NCP leaders Bapu Karne, Anil Tingre and Rupali Dinesh Dhawade, wife of former NCP corporator Dinesh Dhawade. Former Congress leaders such as Sheetal Sawant, Sunita Galande, Mangala Mantri, Shankar Pawar, Prasanna Jagtap and Haridas Charvad fought, and won, on BJP tickets this time.
The BJP had also inducted Reshma Bhosale, wife of NCP MLC Anil Bhosale, in the party, but due to a last-minute error, she had to contest as an Independent candidate. The BJP campaigned for her as a sponsored candidate. Sitting RPI(A) corporator Siddarth Dhende was elected as a BJP member, after the city unit of the RPI(A) decided to contest the election on the BJP’s symbol after the pre-poll alliance.
Priya Gadade, who was elected on a MNS ticket in 2012, contested on a NCP ticket this time and was re-elected to the civic body, while former RPI corporator Avinash Salve won the election as a Shiv Sena candidate.
The Congress had supported Ravindra Dhangekar, who had to contest as an Independent candidate after he failed to submit a party letter before the deadline for filing nominations. He won by defeating BJP leader Ganesh Bidkar. Incidentally, the BJP wanted to induct Dhangekar in the party, but the move was opposed by both Bidkar and Guardian Minister Girish Bapat.
In Pimpri-Chinchwad, at least seven sitting corporators who were “imported” from the NCP by BJP have won. In fact, one of them, Shatrughan Kate, has won with a record margin of over 5,000 votes from Pimple Saudagar-Rahatni area. In the 2012 polls, he had won by a large margin. Kate has been a strong supporter of BJP’s Pimpri-Chinchwad unit president Laxman Jagtap.
Sitting corporator Nitin Landge, who shifted to the BJP from the NCP on the eve of elections, won from Bhosari area for the second time. Others who have switched loyalties to the BJP include Nitin Kalje who won from Charholi, Rahul Jadhav from Moshi and Chadrakant Nakhate from Rahatni.
Among the women candidates, Seema Savale and Asha Shendge were sacked from Shiv Sena two years ago, and they have been with the BJP since then. Similarly, NCP leader and former mayor Mai Dhore had joined the BJP two years ago, and she again won from Sangvi. Maya Barne and Zamabai Barne, who had been with the NCP, won from Thergaon on BJP tickets.
Former Congress leader Jayshree Gawade, who was roped in by the BJP, won from Chinchwad. And former NCP leader Sangeeta Bhondve, who joined the BJP, won from Ravet.
BJP general secretary Sarang Kamtekar said only four of the “imported” candidates lost while 25 had won. “Two or three candidates such as Seema Savale, Asha Shendge and Mai Dhore had joined the BJP much before the civic elections. They are not actually imports,” he said.
BJP leaders said besides the 12 sitting corporators, at least 10-15 leaders had joined the party, and all of them had won. “In all, 25 imports have won,” said Kamtekar.