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Sunday, December 05, 2021

Ex-Sena man Nimhan ready to lead Cong charge

Here is a new breed of home-grown politicians who are fully aware of their connect with the masses and only too willing to leverage it.

Written by Ajay Khape | Pune |
September 30, 2009 4:09:54 am

Here is a new breed of home-grown politicians who are fully aware of their connect with the masses and only too willing to leverage it. The marketability of these star politicians is such that rival political parties offer them tickets at the expense of creating disquiet within their ranks. Starting today,a new series — Taking on The Party.

Shivajinagar Assembly constituency in Pune has been with the BJP-Shiv Sena combine bastion for the last 31 years. It is this constituency that Vinayak Nimhan,a die-hard Sainik for many decades,has chosen as the den for bearding the lion,in this case the tiger. Till last month,Nimhan was a Shiv Sena MLA. His dedication towards the party led the leaders to make him Shakha Pramukh ,at the age of 17 in 1980. Then,he was promoted as Upvibhag Pramukh and Vibhag Pramukh in 1994 and 1999 respectively.

A two-time MLA for the Sena from Shivajinagar in 1999 and 2004,Nimhan was probably the first in the city to join another party ahead of the elections. It’s another matter that his mentor Narayan Rane had already set the agenda many years back by travelling the same route.

Nimhan is not fazed by history and the fact that this saffron fort has not been breached since 1978. Neither does it seems to matter to him that he will be taking on the combined might of the BJP and the Sena. “I was involved in building up the Sena base in the constituency and. Most of the Sena workers have joined Congress with me and those left will support me in absence of the Sena candidate as it is being contested by the BJP,” Nimhan said.

However,the question remains whether the former Sainik will continue to garner support from his vote bank. Also it’s a moot question whether the Congress party rank and file will accept him. If Nimhan had Rane to thank for managing the ticket that many Congressmen were eyeing,there is also resentment from alliance partner NCP that was contesting this seat for the past two elections.

Nimhan feels he is on top as he had beat the NCP candidates — Ankush Kakade (1999) and Anil Bhosale (2004). “The cadre of Sena have rallied behind me in Congress and made my position stronger in the constituency with support from both cadres of Congress-NCP and Sena,” he said. Though he managed to bring in a large number of party cadres from Sena to Congress,he could not get leaders along with him.

After spending three decades in Sena and playing a key role in fortifying the party base in Shivajinagar,Nimhan feels he has the pulse of the electorate and it doesn’t matter that he is on the opposite side of the political divide.

“The constituency has been a bastion of saffron combine and will remain so despite Nimhan shifting sides. The party cadre is committed to the Sena and in no way help the Congress candidate get the benefit of being a former Sainik,” Sena’s city unit chief Nana Wadekar said.

BJP candidate Vikas Mathkari agreed,saying that the saffron combine will continue to hold its bastion. “The voters know that Nimhan has gone against the democratic values and cheated them by shifting sides. He will be defeated by a record margin,” he said.

The Congress leadership might have accepted Nimhan but Congress and NCP workers have not accepted him wholeheartedly.

The Congress cadre had indicated this while extending their support to sitting MLA Chandrakant Chhajed as he filed his nomination as an Independent candidate. It’s another matter that Chhajed has withdrawn from the fray.

The NCP too had expressed its displeasure after the seat went to Congress as NCP corporator Balasaheb Bodke was ready to file nominations. Nimhan is betting on the fact that Suresh Kalmadi bagged 11,220 more votes than his rival Anil Shirole of BJP from the Shivajinagar constituency during the Lok Sabha polls.

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