Minutes after being appointed as the new city BJP chief,Anil Shirole said he was ready to contest next years Lok Sabha polls from Pune city,a seat for which his party colleague and MLA Girish Bapat has already started preparations.
In view of the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls next year,state BJP chief Devendra Phadavis on Monday appointed Shirole as the city unit president to replace the ailing Vikas Mathkari. Shirole wasted no time before announcing that he was in race for the party ticket for the Lok Sabha polls.
I am interested in re-contesting the Lok Sabha polls from the Pune seat. But,the decision will be taken by the party, said Shirole.
When pointed out that sitting legislator Girish Bapat is also readying to contest the LS poll from Pune city,he said,I am aware of that. There is nothing wrong in it. Anyone in the party can have ambition to contest the Lok Sabha seat on a party ticket. But the decision on who would contest will be taken by the party and we would work together to get party candidate elected from Pune Lok Sabha irrespective of who gets ticket.
The party failed to win the election last time due to various reasons,Shirole said. We will overcome those shortcomings this time and get the party candidate elected.
Incidentally,Bapat was not at the party office during Shiroles felicitation.
The party has been witnessing factional rivalry for some time now. While Mathkari is considered close to former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari,the other faction is known to led by Gopinath Munde.
According to a BJP leader,who did not wish to be named,Shiroles appointment has helped the Munde camp regain some of its lost strength in the city. Meanwhile,several corporators and leaders,who are have allied with the Gadkari faction,stayed away from Shiroles felicitation as well.
However,Shirole maintained there is no rift within the party over the seat. There is no divide within the party. We informed everyone about the appointment. But it was at a short notice. Perhaps,they could not attend due to their pre-scheduled appointments, Shirole said.
He pointed out that the party had performed well in the civic polls during his previous tenure as the city BJP chief,when in 2002 the strength of party corporators increased from 20 to 33. I would work towards regaining the strength of the party by taking advantage of the growing opposition to Congress. People are very unhappy with the Congress and want them removed from power, Shriole said.
He was elected to PMC in 1992 and 1997,while being nominated to civic body in 2007. He headed the city BJP unit from 2000 to 2004. In 2009,the BJP gave him the ticket to contest the Lok Sabha polls,but lost the election to Suresh Kalmadi by 25,701 votes.