Political activity has gained pace in the city with two prominent leaders,Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and BJPs PM candidate Narendra Modi,recently visiting the city in the run up to Lok Sabha polls.
After their visit,aspirants for the LS poll from the Congress and the BJP have started pulling up their socks in a bid to get party candidature. The Pune Lok Sabha seat has been a Congress bastion,except for a couple of occasions. The political situation has changed in the last few years with the NCP gaining strength at the local level and MNS emerging as another option to voters.
It has further changed after city MP Suresh Kalmadi,who was elected on Congress ticket,was suspended by the Congress over allegations of corruption in Commonwealth Games. Kalmadi had control over city politics for long but in the recent past he has not been able to stop NCP from gaining power in Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). Allegations of corruption against him and suspension from the Congress have raised hopes of not only those from the opposition parties but his rivals within the party.
In the Congress,too,many aspirants have emerged to stake claim for party ticket to contest the Lok Sabha seat. MLC Mohan Joshi has been reaching out to public and aggressively taking up issues of city in state legislature. Another party leader who made his intention clear for contesting Lok Sabha is Deepak Mankar,who stepped down from post of deputy mayor. He had openly criticised Kalmadi saying the city does not need a corrupt representative as its MP.
Other aspirants for the Congress ticket include Anant Gadgil,Sharad Ranpise and youth leader Vishwajeet Kadam.
The party will have to take note of public sentiments before deciding on the candidate for Pune Lok sabha Seat. The partys image has suffered a beating in the city in last few years and a candidate who can bring back the lost glory to retain the bastion should be the choice for Lok Sabha, said Gadgil.
The city unit of the BJP too is excited. The public address by Modi has spurred the aspirants to go all out to get the candidature. Sitting legislator Girish Bapat and city BJP unit Anil Shirole have already announced their willingness to contest the Lok Sabha seat in Pune on party ticket. The local political situation and the battered Congress along with Modi wave have raised hopes of party to win the Pune seat. This is the best ever situation for the party to win the seat, said a BJP leader.
MNS too is eager to take advantage of the situation and its growing strength. The party was in third position in the previous Lok Sabha poll,which it fought for the first time. The party is looking for a candidate who will ensure party victory. There is lot of hope from Pune seat and the MNS might start its journey in the Lok Sabha from Pune, said an MNS leader.
Former legislator Deepak Paigude,a staunch supporter of Raj Thackeray,is seen as the candidate of the party. Real Estate giant D S Kulkarni entered into politics by contesting the previous Pune Lok Sabha seat on BSP ticket but lost to Kalmadi. This time too he is likely to contest the seat but has not revealed the party he will represent. Another businessmen Sanjay Kakade is also likely to jump into the fray.