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Campaign ends,over to voters now

The last day of the campaigning for the Pune Lok Sabha polls saw parties adoptig various strategies to woo the voter.

Written by Express News Service | Pune |
April 22, 2009 1:11:19 am

<>i Kalmadi gets some Maratha support,BJP scoffs at Pune Pattern,BSP woos Christians,tribals

 

The last day of the campaigning for the Pune Lok Sabha polls saw parties adoptig various strategies to woo the voter. While sitting MP Suresh Kalmadi got Maratha organisations to support him and Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel to reiterate the NCP’s support for the Congress,BJP state president Nitin Gadkari distanced his party from the NCP saying the Pune Pattern in the civic body (NCP-Shiv Sena-BJP alliance) did not mean anything in the present context.

The BSP,meanwhile,banking on infighting within the two main political parties,held a rally in a bid to woo Christian and Nomadic Tribe communities. Now all eyes are on April 23,when voting will take place and bring to an end the hectic political activities preceding the Lok Sabha polls that started months before the elections were announced.

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Earlier,the Congress and BJP were saddled with infighting over the party ticket. The change in political equations in the city in the last few years — the NCP joining hands with the Shiv Sena and the BJP to gain power in the Pune Municipal Corporation while keeping the Congress in the opposition— had also added to the political heat.

The Congress finally reposed faith in Kalmadi and gave him the ticket while other political parties struggled in selecting candidates. Their basic premise was to select candidate to gain from the caste equations. However,the biggest surprise that livened up the contest was the BSP roping in a Brahmin and prominent builder D S Kulkarni.

BJP gave ticket to a Maratha,Anil Shirole,in a bid to attract the traditional NCP votebank while the new entrant,MNS,brought a youngster Ranjit Shirole to contest the Pune seat. Retired bureaucrat Arun Bhatia and IPS officer Vikram Bokey are among the 36 contesting the Pune Lok Sabha seat.

The importance of the seat can be gauged from the fact that Congress chief Sonia Gandhi,BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L K Advani,NCP chief Sharad Pawar,MNS chief Raj Thackeray addressed public rallies in the city.

The last leg of campaigning saw several Maratha organisations,Brahmin organisations and minority organisations openly pledging support for Kalmadi.

At a press conference,organizations like Shiv Sangram,Sambhaji Brigade,Jijau Brigade,Akhil Maratha Seva Sangh and Brahmin Seva Sangh backed Kalmadi in the hope that he would take up the issue of reservation for the Maratha community.

Representatives,speaking at the conference,said that even as BJP had put up a Maratha candidate referring to Anil Shirole,the candidate was not to keen on taking up the issue. M Salunke of Maratha Seva Sangh said it was the first time they were openly pledging support for him,gong against the trend of supporting a Maratha candidate.

BJP-Shiv Sena candidate Anil Shirole spent the whole day meeting party workers and renowned personalities from various walks of life. He thanked the party workers for their support in the last 26 days of campaigning. At the concluding rally too,Shirole said that all the workers including senior leaders Anna Joshi,Pradeep Rawat and Girish Bapat supported him.

Shirole gave the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance the credit for development in Pune saying the Pune-Mumbai Express Way and the IT park at Hinjewadi created by the alliance were the key elements for the city’s development.

BSP candidate D S Kulkarni who mainly focused on slums,is banking on infighting within the two main political parties. The BSP held a rally in favour of its candidate to get the support of Christian and Nomadic Tribe communities.

Kulkarni addressed a press conference to declare growing support for him while claiming there is a wave against the Congress-NCP which will favour BSP. 

The MNS candidate held roadshows on the final hours of campaigning. The entire campaign trail focused on locality visits and meetings and a huge public rally of party chief Raj Thackeray. Entering the Lok Sabha race for the first time,the MNS had resolved to address problems of slum dwellers.

Meanwhile,BJP state president Nitin Gadkari said the Pune Pattern,an alliance among the NCP,Shiv Sena and BJP,had come into existence to keep the Congress away from power. “There is nothing like the Pune Pattern. The BJP is neither involved in power at the PMC in any way,nor is it involved in any decisions taken by the ruling alliance. The Pune Pattern had come into existence more as a political obligation,to keep Congress out of power. It was just a strategic move,” he said.

KEY CONTESTANTS,AS THEY PUT IT

Suresh Kalmadi,Congress

“I hope to win by a better margin than the last time. With voters having increased after delimitation,I hope to win by at least one lakh votes. My competition is with myself. Media people can criticise me or praise me…but please do not neglect me.”

Anil Shirole,BJP

“Suresh Kalmadi has spoiled the city and if we want development as seen in Gujarat,the BJP-Shiv Sena is the right choice.”

D S Kulkarni,BSP

“People have lost confidence in the Congress and the BJP. I am fortunate that candidates of both the leading political parties had led to unrest within the parties while helping the BSP to gain from it.”

Ranjit Shirole,MNS

“The election campaign was a real eye-opener for me and I am committed to resolving the issues plaguing the slum-dwellers.”

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