The BJP may be getting forced to go for a Brahmin candidate for the Pune Lok Sabha seat,as other parties too seem to be zeroing in on candidates from this community that has a four-lakh-strong presence here.
Corporators Anil Shirole and Vikas Mathkari and former MP Anna Joshi have shown their readiness to contest Lok Sabha elections. So far Shiroles name has been ahead of others as he has received support from BJP national secretary Gopinath Munde. But in the changing equations,insiders say BJP might consider a Brahmin candidate for the Pune Lok Sabha seat.
Political pundits say that BJP was trying to play the Maratha card by giving candidature to Shirole to gain covert support of NCP as the NCP workers are in no mood to support Suresh Kalmadi or for that matter any Congress candidate in Pune.
The Maratha community has a strong base of four lakh voters in the city. But now as BSP has decided to give ticket to D S Kulkarni,Congress is likely to finalise Kalmadi’s name. On the other hand,the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) is thinking of giving ticket to Anil Shidore. In this backdrop, BJP leaders are busy gauging new equations that have emerged in the constituency. Some BJP leaders argue that the party should give ticket to a Brahmin as the community has traditionally been with the party,
BSP has fielded me as a candidate as the party believes in social engineering. But to some extent it has definitely changed the equations in the Pune constituency, said BSP candidate D S Kulkarni. He however said the BSP had given Brahmins share in power too,which other parties had not. Moreover,I am not a candidate for a specific community but for all the communities in the city, he said.
Abhay Chhajed,president of Congress city unit,said the BSP giving Brahmin candidate would affect the BJP votes to some extent. It is however not going to harm Congress as it has a wide base in Pune, he said.
Sandeep Khardekar,vice-president of city unit of BJP,however begs to differ. Brahmins have traditionally been with the BJP and will remain with the party. The message was loud and clear at a recent Brahmin convention in the city inaugurated by Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and BJP national general secretary Gopinath Munde, he said.
Anil Shirole,one of the aspirants from BJP,said the picture would be clear only after the party declares the candidate following seat-sharing agreement with the Shiv Sena.
Meanwhile,BJP MLA Girish Bapat at a press conference on Tuesday said,Those willing to contest have already been interviewed by the partys state committee. It is the choice of the Central leadership and not my personal choice. Speculations were rife that Bapat himself would contest from Pune to avoid internal conflict. Bapat however said,Even if the party leaders wish,I will convince them that I am not interested.