In a bid to revive the sulking party unit in the city and retain the party bastion, the Congress on Tuesday declared state Youth Congress chief Vishwajeet Kadam, son of senior party leader Patangrao Kadam, as candidate for the Pune Lok Sabha seat. The move is also aimed at giving a young face to the party to bring back its lost pride in the city.
Thirty-three-year-old Kadam was selected from among the many aspirants eying the prestigious seat after it became clear that Suresh Kalmadi was not being considered. Party legislator Mohan Joshi, city unit chief Abhay Chhajed, state women Congress chief Kamal Vyavhare were among the leading contenders for the seat.
The reins of the party were with Kalmadi for long as he was thrice elected as MP from the city. He was suspended by the party after his arrest in the alleged corruption in organising the Commonwealth Games.
In the recent past, senior Kadam was active in the affairs of city Congress and ensured his presence on the stage at most of the party functions.
Vishwajeet, who is the secretary of Bharati Vidyapeeth, has been campaigning for his father in Assembly elections in Sangli district. He was the secretary and vice-president before twice being elected as state Youth Congress chief through election process initiated by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi. This came as a strong point for him to be preferred over other contenders for the LS seat.
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“The candidature of Kadam will change the face of the party in the city. Party workers were sulking due to sharp criticism of sitting MP who was elected on Congress ticket, but Kadam will induce energy among the party workers,” said a Congress leader.
Kadam is definitely the choice of Rahul Gandhi so no party leader would create problems for him, he said, adding, “Kadam also shares a good equation with all leaders and factions in the city. Thus, no one would openly oppose his candidature.”
Another party leader said Congress has taken a risk. “Kadam is known to be from Sangli and it would be difficult for the Congress to convince voters to support him. There are many senior party leaders that have been loyal and worked at the ground level. The candidature of Kadam would hurt them,” he said.
Kadam is also the son-in-law of real estate baron Avinash Bhosale, who enjoys proximity to all political parties, especially NCP. Kadam married Bhosale’s daughter Swapnil in 2012. Early this month, the couple had their first child.
At a young age, Vishwajeet Kadam has already made his mark in various fields. He is the secretary of Bharati Vidyapeeth, chairman of Bharati Sahakari Bank, member of All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), director of sugar cooperative mill in Vangi and a handloom mill. He is also the vice-president of Western India Football Association and president of Pune District Football Association.