May 16, 2009 12:17:27 am
Sitting MP Suresh Kalmadi is looking to equal the record of the late Vithalrao Gadgil of representing Pune in Lok Sabha for the third time though the performance of the BSP and the MNS is likely to play a pivotal role in the constituency,which saw the lowest voter turnout till date.
The Pune seat,one of the four in the district,is a Congress bastion. In the last 10 elections,the Congress had won the seat seven times while the BJP managed to make inroads twice and the Bharatiya Lok Dal won the seat once.
Gadgil of the Congress holds the record of winning the seat thrice in 1980,1984 and 1989 while Kalmadi was elected twice in 1996 and 2004 as a Congress candidate. Mohan Dharia had also represented Pune twice in Lok Sabha,in 1971 and 1977,once under the Congress banner and then as a Bharatiya Lok Dal candidate.
However,those who had won the seat in the last four elections had done so with comfortable margins. Kalmadi had won the seat with a margin of 73,176 votes in 2004 while BJPs Pradeep Rawat had won with a margin of 91,285 votes in 1999. In 1998,Vithal Tupe of the Congress defeated Kalmadi,then an Independent,by 93,318 votes. However,Kalmadi had won the last election on the Congress ticket with a margin of 87,000 votes.
We are confident that Kalmadi will win the seat for the third time, city Congress chief Abhay Chhajed said,claiming that the constituency is a party stronghold. On the other hand,the BJP is also hopeful of winning the seat for the third time. We will win the seat,but with less margin, state BJP chief Nitin Gadkari said. The BSP and the MNS will eat into the Congress votes and it will benefit us,he said.
However,the low voter turnout has been a cause of concern to all parties. The poor response from the slums will affect our performance,while the same in the old city area will cut into the BJP votes, a Congress leader said.
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