Opposition allies seem to be heading towards a deadlock over the eight constituencies in Pune City ahead of the Assembly polls, with the NCP seeking to contest on six seats and the Congress pitching for a 50-50 seat-sharing formula. In the 2014 Assembly elections, the two parties had fought separately and were trounced in all the eight seats by the BJP in a historic win.
At the NCP’s review meeting in Mumbai Saturday, party’s Pune unit chief Chetan Tupe aggressively argued that it should contest on six Assembly seats from the city.
The meeting was attended by party chief Sharad Pawar, state chief Jayant Patil, MPs Supriya Sule and Amol Kolhe, and leaders Chhagan Bhujbal and Dilip Walse-Patil.
Presenting a review of all seats at the meeting, Tupe said in Pune Cantonment, Shivajinagar and Hadapsar, the party had fared well in the recently held Lok Sabha elections.
While both the Congress and NCP seem to be in a mood to lock horns over Pune City seat, party leaders are hoping that senior leaders would intervene to resolve the dispute, especially at a time when the BJP-Shiv Sena have joined hands and are vowing to win 220 seats to decimate the Congress-NCP alliance. “Any dispute between the two parties will sink both of us...,” a senior Congress leader said.
“In Hadapsar, Sena candidate led only by 5,000 votes, while in Pune Cantonment and Shivajinagar assembly segments, the vote share of the Sena-BJP candidate had come down,” he told the meeting.
Party leader Ajit Pawar, who was also present at the meeting, said that the NCP’s strength in Pune city had improved over the years. “Therefore, the party will seek to contest on at least six seats. We will leave two seats of Pune Cantonment and Kasba for the Congress,” he said.
In 2009 Assembly elections, the NCP contested from Khadakwasla, Parvati, Kothrud and Wadgaonsheri and the Congress from Hadapsar, Shivajinagar, Pune Cantonment and Kasba constituencies.
Claiming that the NCP’s demand was “highly unreasonable and unfair”, Pune Congress spokesperson Ramesh Iyer said, “The 6-2 formula is not acceptable to us. It should be 4-4 formula.”
In 2014 Assembly elections, Iyer said, the Congress candidates had finished second to the winners in three constituencies. “In (2014 polls) the Kasba, Shivajinagar and Cantonment seats, the Congress candidates stood, second while the NCP was pushed to third and fourth spot. There was no alliance between the Congress and NCP then. Therefore, we will seek these three seats and our traditional seat of Parvati,” he said.
NCP is in a better position in Wadgaonsheri, Khadakwasla, Hadapsar and Kothrud, Iyer said.
According to city Congress sources, a number strong party leaders were vying for the four seats. For Kasba seat, leaders like Arvind Shinde (who was denied nomination during Pune Lok Sabha elections), Ravindra Dhangekar, Kamal Vyavahare and Rohit Tilak (who lost last time) are vying for party tickets this time.
In Shivajinagar, Congress leaders Datta Bahirat, Manish Anand and former mayor Dattatrya Gaikwad are in the race.
City president Ramesh Bagwe, leaders Lata Rajguru and Sadanand Shetty are seeking party tickets from Pune Cantonment seat. In Parvati seats, two party stalwarts — Aba Bagul and Abhay Chhajed — who were seeking Lok Sabha candidature, are in the race.
NCP leaders Nilesh Nikam and Shrikant Patil are vying for tickets from Shivajinagar seat, while Ashwini Kadam and Nitin Kadam from Parvati. In Wadgaonsheri, party’s leaders Bapu Pathare, Sunil Tingre, Bhimrao Galande are vying for ticket, while in Khadakwasla, leaders Dilip Barate, Rupali Chakankar and Kaka Chavan are in the race for tickets. NCP leaders Suresh Ghule, Prashant Jagtap, Yogesh Sasane, Vaishali Bankar and Farooq Inamdar are vying for NCP’s ticket from Hadapsar seat.
Reiterating NCP’s demand for 6-2 seat-share, party’s state spokesperson Ankush Kakade said: “We have placed our demand based on our strength. We have 42 corporators, while the Congress has just nine in the city. Besides, our performance in the Lok Sabha elections has also shown improvement,” he said.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections Congress had managed to win just 1 and the NCP four of the total 48 seats in the state.