The development plank that saw the BJP unseat the Congress both in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections was a dominant factor in the Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) polls where the party bagged five out of eight seats. Social welfare minister and MLA from Pune Cantonment, Dilip Kamble, attributed the win to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘dynamic leadership’ and people’s desire for a change.
A fortnight before the elections, billboards put up across Camp and other parts of the Cantonment displayed Modi’s vision for a better Pune.
What marked these elections was that less-known BJP leaders managed to perform better against the Congress heavyweights, who have been former members of the PCB.
These members failed to address issues like cleanliness, inadequate water supply, issue of old sewage lines which are yet to be replaced, lack of permission for new constructions or renovations at old buildings, the problem of hawkers leading to overcrowded streets among others.
In fact, the Congress camp is also slightly unsettled with the defeat of Arti Mahajan, wife of former vice-president of PCB Sanjeev Mahajan, who contested from Ward No. 5 comprising areas like Stavely Road, Camp education society, Ambedkar memorial among others.
She mustered 1,072 votes against the BJP’s Vivek Yadav, who secured 2,006 votes.
Another upset was that of former PCB member and Congress candidate Karan Singh Makwana from Ward No. 4 that was reserved for the scheduled caste (SC). Atul Gaikwad of BJP won with 1,562 votes while Makwana polled 1,256 votes.
Admitting defeat, senior Congress leader Abhay Chhajed said that rebel candidates in various wards spoiled chances of the Congress candidates. He, however, ruled out any Modi wave and even alleged that money and muscle power swayed votes.
Uttam Patil, returning officer for PCB elections, said that PCB registered a voting percentage of 64.44.
A ward-wise break up of the voting percentage shows that the highest (75.69 per cent) was registered in Ward No 3, where BJP’s Dilip Girhamkar (1,513 votes) defeated Independent candidate Prakash Kedari, who polled 1,164 votes.
Ward No 8, which saw a voting per centage of 70.99, saw BJP’s Priyanka Shrigiri defeating Congress candidate Shazira Shaikh.
However, BJP was defeated in Ward No 1 where Independent candidate Roopali Bidkar (wife for former PCB member Shailendra Bidkar) retained the seat. Ward No. 2 was retained by Congress’ Ashok Pawar who defeated Independent candidate Meher Irani by 500 votes.
Former vice-president of PCB Vinod Mathurawala, who won Ward No. 6 on Congress ticket, said the win indicated people’s appreciation for hard work.
“There was no Modi wave. In these local elections, people take into account the work that members have done,” he said.
Advocate N P Bhog, an environment activist from Camp, was categorical in saying that there was little development done by former board members.
“Areas like Taboot street, Dastur Meher Road and Centre street have seen no improvement. At J J garden, the traffic scene remains chaotic with the mushrooming of several stalls,” Bhog said.