Returning to the city for the first time after being denied a ticket, Kalmadi was surrounded by supporters at the airport and his house. Congress leaders who welcomed him at the airport included legislator Ramesh Bagawe, Deputy Mayor Bandu Gaikwad and a few corporators.
“I will hold meeting with my supporters before declaring the stand for elections. I will make my stand public in the next few days,” Kalmadi told reporters.
Congress workers supporting Kalmadi met him at his house to seek directions for the upcoming elections, with the party giving the ticket to Vishwajeet Kadam, state Youth Congress chief and son of senior leader Patangrao Kadam. “We will do whatever our leader says. It was injustice to deny him a ticket as he has not been proved guilty (in the Commonwealth Games scam). Kalmadi has contributed a lot to the party in the city and was solely responsible for keeping the city a party bastion,” said a Congress leader.
Rivals within the party and from Opposition parties have been targeting him for the past few years, he said. “We are hurt by the treatment meted out to him by party. We will stand by the decision he takes for the elections,” the leader added.
The declaration of Kadam as the party candidate is being seen as the end of Kalmadi in city politics, but his supporters are confident he will make a comeback soon. After the announcement, Kadam had said Kalmadi is a senior leader with good contribution to the city.
Meanwhile, the party has got divided into three groups — the anti-Kalmadi camp, his supporters, and those working for Kadam.
Kadam has been meeting senior party leaders to seek their support. On Thursday, he offered prayers at Ganesh temple before launching his election campaign. He is also holding meetings with the NCP for garnering the support of alliance party workers.