The ruling BJP in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) on Friday appointed co-opt councilor Ganesh Bidkar as the new leader of the House, replacing Dheeraj Ghate. Bidkar is considered close to state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil, who is the legislator from the Kothrud assembly constituency in the city.
The move comes around a week after the BJP faced a major setback in the graduates’ and teachers’ constituency polls to the state Legislative Assembly.
In Pune division, which was considered to be the bastion of the BJP, NCP candidate Arun Lad defeated Sangram Deshmukh of the BJP by a big margin. The seat was previously won by Patil in two consecutive elections. The Maha Vikas Aghadi, an alliance of the NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena, had contested the elections jointly and won four of the six seats that went to the polls.
The elections for civic bodies, including the PMC, are likely to be scheduled in early 2022.
Bidkar said the NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena coming together against the BJP shows the “increased strength of his party”. “The BJP will aggressively take on the alliance… The party has been doing good work in the civic body, which it will continue in the next one year. We will stand true to the trust shown by people in us while bringing the party to power in the PMC,” he said.
However, Bidkar’s appointment has not gone well among few leaders within the party. “The party has around 100 elected corporators in the PMC while Bidkar was nominated after he faced a defeat in the 2017 civic polls. The party has sent a wrong signal among the elected corporators by appointing Bidkar as the leader of the House. It is going to raise doubts against the efficiency of the elected corporators,” said a BJP leader.
The BJP is also likely to replace the deputy mayor to bring in an aggressive face keeping an eye on the forthcoming civic elections. Mayor Murlidhar Mohol is likely to continue on his post considering his image in the city due to his activeness during the pandemic and proximity to senior BJP leaders.
On the other hand, the NCP leadership is also likely to find a replacement for Deepali Dhumal as the leader of Opposition to take on the BJP.
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