Twin hurdles on Kalmadi poll trail: disgruntled camp,disinterested ally

As the polls draw near,Pune MP Suresh Kalmadi,who has already started reaching out to people,has a rival contestant for the Congress ticket.

Written by Express News Service | Pune | Published:February 10, 2009 12:07 am

CONGRESS: As sitting MP eyes another term,dissidents prop rival candidate

As the polls draw near,Pune MP Suresh Kalmadi,who has already started reaching out to people,has a rival contestant for the Congress ticket.

A faction of the Congress,led by MLC Mohan Joshi,who is known to be a Kalmadi-baiter,is propping Joshi for the ticket. This comes a day after the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) indirectly slammed Kalmadi saying the party’s Lok Sabha candidate for Pune has yet to be decided.

Only three days ago,Kalmadi had launched his public outreach programme by taking out a Samvad Yatra in some of the slum areas in the city. However,the MPCC said who the next Congress candidate would be was not yet clear and the party was holding talks with its allies on seat-sharing.

“Congress fielded me from Pune in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections. I bagged over two lakh votes but could not win. In 2004,I was the first candidate to claim the ticket. I was denied the opportunity. Now,the forthcoming election is very important for the party. I am confident that I will be able to bring victory to the Congress,as Pune’s common man needs a change for the better,” Joshi told The Indian Express.

“Before selecting a candidate,the Congress has a tradition of appointing a parliamentary board. It recommends names to the party high command,which takes a decision on that. The party has yet to start anything on that front,but some people are acting as if they have already been named the candidate,” Joshi said taking a dig at Kalmadi.

In a meeting held by Joshi and his supporters in the city on Sunday,Kalmadi was blamed for putting the Congress out of power in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC),despite NCP’s offer to share power. Party workers said Kalmadi was responsible for the formation of the Pune Pattern (NCP-Shiv Sena-BJP alliance),which kept the Congress away from power in the civic body. Some of Joshi’s followers,including corporator Rashid Shaikh,were present at the meeting.

“The meeting decided that Joshi’s name be recommended as the candidate and forwarded to the MPCC,” said a party worker present in the meeting.

On Kalmadi’s slum visit,a Joshi supporter said,“In the last five years,Kalmadi did not get time to visit slums; now,when the polls are nearing. he does so even before the candidate is named.”

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