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WITH THE exercise of delimitation of electoral panels for the 2017 Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) elections getting completed, political parties in the city are gearing up to identify and shortlist candidates so that election campaigns can begin in advance and reach out to as many voters as possible. The PMC had a two-ward electoral panel in the previous civic polls, which meant the representative was elected from an area covering two wards. However, the state government has decided on a four-ward electoral panel for the 2017 civic polls, which has doubled the area from which candidates must seek votes to get elected to the civic body. The election commission has divided the PMC into 41 electoral panels from which 162 corporators will be elected.
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“There is no way the candidate will be able to reach voters if the party ticket is assured at the last minute. Hence, we have started the exercise of identifying potential winning candidates for each of the 41 electoral panels. The party plans to declare the first list of candidates before December,” said an NCP leader.
The meeting of city NCP leaders with party MP Supriya Sule was held on Thursday to decide on preparations for the civic polls. “It was decided that the party candidates that are almost confirmed on the basis of their winning capability will be given a go-ahead to start the election campaign at the earliest,” he said.
The city Congress, too, has set up a committee of senior party leaders to identify strong candidates. “The party is analysing each of the electoral panels in terms of potential candidates. The certain candidates will be urged to start meeting the voters from now onwards,” said a Congress leader, adding the Congress would concentrate more on the pockets where the party has a strong base rather than running around across the city.
“We are not sure whether there will be any pre-poll alliance but the present exercise will give a clear picture of the party situation. It will also help in making preparations,” he added.
The BJP after its performance in the 2014 Assembly and Lok Sabha elections has been claiming that it is very much prepared to take up any challenge and is confident of winning the civic elections. “Sitting corporators and prominent leaders of various other political parties are lining up to join the BJP. However, the party is not assuring them tickets,” guardian minister Girish Bapat had recently said.
The BJP is not rushing to induct the leaders from other political parties without verifying them, he said, adding, “The party will be following the process to finalise the candidates.”
On the other hand, city Shiv Sena chief Vinayak Nimhan was of the opinion that his party has a strong base across the city through its shakhas. “The Shiv Sena shakhas are active all the time so we already have probable candidates identified. They will be declared by the party high command,” he said.
The MNS that gave its best performance so far in the 2012 civic polls by emerging as the second largest party will be kickstarting its election campaign with party chief Raj Thackeray addressing party workers on November 8 in the city.