Updated: September 27, 2021 8:54:43 pm
While the Shiv Sena has expressed its intention to contest the February elections to Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in alliance with the NCP and the Congress, local leaders of both its alliance partners in the state government do not seem to be ready for a tie-up with the Sena whose performance in civic polls in the past has been less than encouraging.
On Sunday, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, who was in the city, said, “The Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress have jointly formed a government in the state. Such an alliance should be explored in the civic elections as well.”
When asked whether Sena was keen to contest the civic body election in alliance, Raut told The Indian Express on Monday: “Though we are willing to jointly contest the election in alliance with the Congress and the NCP, we will not sacrifice on our self-respect. If seat allocations are made respectfully, then we would like to have an alliance. Otherwise, we have already instructed our party cadres to prepare for contesting on all the wards of PMC.”
Raut said it was for the other two parties to take the decision. “The Sena is willing for an alliance to ensure that the votes don’t get divided. But if the two parties (NCP and Congress) are not ready, we have no problem. We will contest on our own strength,” he said.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) spokesperson Ankush Kakade said, “Any decision regarding the alliance will be taken by top leaders of the three parties. In fact, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar has already said that wherever possible, the three parties of the Maha Vikas Aghadi should contest the elections together. If alliance is not possible, then the parties have the choice of contesting on their own.”
Kakade said the local leaders of the party are in favour of contesting the election on their own strength. “This is because it gives the party members an opportunity to prove their mettle and also helps the party grow its base. Anyway, the decision in this regard will be taken by the Deputy Chief Minister after discussing with the local leaders,” he added.
Congress spokesperson Ramesh Iyer said, “MPCC (Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee) chief Nana Patole has already said that the local elections will be fought by the party on its own strength. Congress is not keen on an alliance. If elections are fought jointly, then some party leaders who are preparing for years lose out on the opportunity to contest them. Fighting election jointly is also not in the interest of the party as it proves detrimental to expanding the base of the party among the voters.”
Sena’s city president Sanjay More said, “The Sena is not waiting with an expectation that there will be an alliance. We are already preparing for contesting all the civic wards. We have enough leaders capable of contesting elections across Pune city. Ideally, we would like to have an alliance. If it doesn’t (work out), it won’t matter. We are fully geared up to contest PMC elections and ensure that maximum candidates are elected.”
An NCP leader said, “If we contest jointly, then we will have to share our seats with the Sena and the Congress. That means, we will have less number of seats to contest and in effect, fewer corporators. As it is, the Sena has always performed poorly in civic elections.”
In last civic elections, the Sena had won only 10 wards. The maximum the party had won was 21 wards in 2002 elections.
Iyer said, “Civic elections are generally fought on party strength. In 2017 elections, Congress and NCP had friendly fights in some wards and in a few others, we had a tie-up,” he said.
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