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I am glad NCP’s Ajit Pawar didn’t campaign for me. The NCP lost wherever he campaigned,” Congress MP Suresh Kalmadi said after his third win in Pune Lok Sabha seat,by a margin of around 25,701 votes,over BJP’s Anil Shirole.

Written by Ajay Khape | Pune |
May 17, 2009 1:51:24 am

I am glad NCP’s Ajit Pawar didn’t campaign for me. The NCP lost wherever he campaigned,” Congress MP Suresh Kalmadi said after his third win in Pune Lok Sabha seat,by a margin of around 25,701 votes,over BJP’s Anil Shirole.

When counting was on,some reporters asked Kalmadi about Ajit staying away from his campaign in Pune district,to which Kalmadi had said,“I don’t want to say anything…” Ajit had kept away from the Kalmadi campaign saying he was busy canvassing for his party in adjoining Shirur,Maval and Baramati. The NCP lost the Shirur and Maval to the Shiv Sena.

Congress city chief Abhay Chhajed,legislators Chandrakant Chhajed and Ramesh Bagawe went with Kalmadi to the counting centre in Shivajinagar. Congress workers entered the celebratory mood as soon as it became clear Kalmadi would win and started raising slogans against Ajit.

Kalmadi,however,thanked NCP chief Sharad Pawar for campaigning for him. “I am surprised that NCP workers did not listen to their party chief even after Pawar saheb asked them to campaign for me,” he said and congratulated Supriya Sule for her win in Baramati,saying,“We will work together for development of the city”.

Pune was hotly contested by NCP in the seat sharing talks. The city NCP unit had tried to stake claim saying its strength had increased after coming to power in the local civic body in 2007. The NCP had been at loggerheads with the Congress after 2007 and had joined hands with the Sena and BJP to gain power in the civic body.

The NCP did not break this “alliance of convenience” with the saffron parties despite the Congress leaders putting pressure on its ally.

Most NCP leaders stayed away from Kalmadi’s campaign; they were forced to join in only after the NCP chief came down heavily on them about a week ahead of the polls. However,Ajit still did not campaign for Kalmadi.

Taking advantage of the differences between the Congress and NCP,the BJP fielded a Maratha,Anil Shirole,hoping for some “hidden” NCP support. At the same time,the anti-Kalmadi camp in Congress,led by Mohan Joshi,Balasaheb Shivarkar and Anant Gadgil made an all-out effort to put pressure on the party leadership to deny the Pune ticket to Kalmadi. But now Kalmadi has scored over them.

Kalmadi thanked the other contestants saying,“Pune witnessed the best campaign in the country with all the candidates carrying out a decent campaign.”

Incidentally Pune,with 36 candidates,had seen the second highest number in the fray in the country,after Bangalore Central’s 37.

Kalmadi said he was committed to putting in place a world-class public transport system in the city,by way of the Metro rail project.

Kalmadi had earlier won the Pune seat in 1996 and 2004 by 86,995 and 73,176 votes respectively. He lost in 1998 by 93,318 votes.

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