AFTER winning the municipal corporation elections with a thumping majority of 98 out of 162 seats in the Pune Municipal Corporation, the BJP now faces the arduous task of deciding who the city’s next mayor will be. Both loyal party leaders, as well as ‘ imports’ — senior leaders who had defected to the BJP from other political parties before the elections — are vying for the honour. The post has been reserved for a women corporator elected from an open category seat.
The front-runners for the post include Mukta Tilak, Ranjana Tilekar, Varsha Tapkir, Madhuri Sahasrabudhe, Manasi Deshpande, Manjusha Nagpure, Jyotsana Ekbote, Mangala Mantri, Sheetal Sawant and Reshma Bhosale.
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Mukta Tilak, a descendant of freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak, has been re-elected to the PMC for the fourth consecutive time and is the senior-most in the race for the mayor’s post. She had held the position of leader of the BJP in PMC in 2009, and in the most recent term, she had led from the front whenever party leader Ganesh Bidkar was absent in the general body meeting. Bidkar has lost in the civic elections.
Tilak hails from the heart of city — Sadashiv Peth-Shaniwar Peth — and has won the highest number of votes in the civic elections.
Tilekar is the mother of state BJP youth wing chief and Hadapsar legislator Yogesh Tilekar. She has been re-elected to the PMC after a gap of five years. Tilekar has a good shot at the mayor’s post as she has been elected from an open category seat by defeating male candidates of other political parties.
Tapkir has been elected for the third time to the civic body and has been one of the aggressive corporators of the party in the PMC. She represents the Satara Road area.
Sahasrabudhe is the founder-director of Balranjan Kendra in Karve Road area. She has been promoting various environment-related projects pertaining to rainwater harvesting in the city and has criticised spending civic funds for the concretisation of city roads.
Deshpande is a relative of BJP legislator Madhuri Misal from Parvati. She has been elected to the PMC for the second time and is considered close to state minister Pankaja Munde.
Nagpure, a second-time corporator, represents the Hingne Khurd area on Sinhagad Road.
Ekbote, wife of Progressive Education Society chairman Gajanan Ekbote, is a professor. She joined electoral politics at the last minute. The BJP forced former corporator Jyotsana Sirdeshpande to withdraw from the fray, so that Ekbote could contest on a party ticket.
Among the ‘imports’ are Reshma Bhosale, an Independent candidate supported by the BJP, who is also a contender for the mayor’s post. Bhosale is the wife of NCP MLC and former city NCP chief Anil Bhosale, who was considered a close confidant of NCP leader Ajit Pawar. Her defection to the BJP, after the NCP denied her a ticket, was one of the most important political developments before the civic polls.
Bhosale has been elected to the civic body for the second time; she has managed to defeat Congress leader Datta Bahirat and NCP leader Nilesh Nikam. She is a close relative of Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Kakade, who played a crucial role in the party’s victory in the PMC.
Sawant is a former Congress corporator, who contested, and won, on a BJP ticket this time. She is the daughter-in-law of former mayor and Congress leader Bharat Sawant. She has been elected to the civic body from a panel in the Nagar Road area.
Another contender, Mangla Mantri, had switched loyalties from the Congress to the BJP ahead of the civic polls. A first-time corporator, she has been elected from the open category seat reserved for women and represents Koregaon Park area.