In a bid to raise their stature in the party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders seem to be competing amongst themselves to see who can induct the maximum number of leaders from other other political parties into their party.
On Tuesday, Guardian minister Girish Bapat and city BJP chief Yogesh Gogawale got former mayor and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Suresh Shewale, Raghvendra Mankar, son of NCP corporator Deepak Mankar, along with other NCP leaders Dilip Wede-Patil, Ganesh Bhintade and Shailesh Bansode, into the BJP after introducing them to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Mumbai.
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Recently, BJP leader in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) Ganesh Bidkar managed to rope in sitting corporator of the ruling NCP, Dhawade and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s (MNS) Rajendra Barate. However, the two sitting corporators had to release a press statement saying they are still the members of the party that gave them the ticket in the previous election. The statement was issued after fears that they were likely to be disqualified in the next elections for the defection.
Bidkar persuaded the two sitting corporators to defect to the BJP by keeping it a secret with no other city BJP leaders being aware of it till the last minute. This time, it was Bapat and Gogawale who managed to get in other political figures in the party. “The BJP is upbeat after coming to power in the state and at the Centre. Moreover, the BJP had an extraordinary performance in the 2014 assembly and Lok Sabha elections as it won all the seats from the city with a record margin. Thus, there is confidence that the BJP can grab power in the PMC and everyone is creating their own stature in the party,” said a source.
He said the city leaders want to gain the confidence of state leaders so as to have their say in pre-election and post-election situation. “The race is to establish their importance in the party. There would be more such induction of leaders from other political parties in BJP. It would gain momentum after the delimitation of electoral panels becomes public,” said the source.
The PMC polls are likely to be held by February 2017. The NCP is presently holding power in the local civic body while the BJP has the fourth-highest number of corporators in civic body.