April 9, 2009 3:49:13 am
After going all out against the Congress since wresting power in the Pune Municipal Corporation with the help of the BJP and the Shiv Sena in February 2007,the NCP went in for a role reversal on Wednesday by campaigning with gusto for Congress candidate Suresh Kalmadi. The volte face by the local unit of the party comes a day after it came to light that party chief Sharad Pawar had prevailed upon his nephew Ajit Pawar to campaign for Kalmadi.
The voters of Pune constituency on Wednesday witnessed the sight of city NCP chief Jaideo Gaikwad,executive president Anil Bhosale and legislator Kamal Dhole-Patil campaigning for the Congress candidate. Ajit Pawar is expected to follow suit soon.
The local NCP leaders,including legislators and corporators,had hitherto stayed away from campaigning for the Congress in Pune just as Congressmen had expressed reservation about campaigning for the NCP candidates in the other constituencies in the district. This was despite that Sharad Pawar had addressed two rallies in support of Kalmadi in a week,on March 28 and April 4.
However,the hostility shown by the local NCP leaders and workers towards the partys electoral ally had invited the wrath of Pawar. It is understood that Pawar senior read out the riot act to all,including his nephew,and the NCP workers were forced to campaign for Kalmadi since the beginning of the week.
The junior Pawar had been openly taking on Kalmadi since the 2007 civic elections when the NCP joined hands with the Shiv Sena and the BJP to set up a new political alliance known as Pune Pattern,to grab power in the PMC. A curious situation has arisen now with two mutually exclusive alliances at work in Pune Lok Sabha and PMC.
We are in alliance for the Lok Sabha polls and the NCP leaders participation in the election campaign will yield good results for us, city Congress chief Abhay Chhajed said and added that the fight for Lok Sabha seat is on principles at the national level and the secular principles of both the Congress and the NCP are the same.
When asked whether the NCP party workers will sincerely participate in the campaign,he said the Congress is confident of the NCP,but it is for the public to decide on the sincerity of the local NCP leaders. When contacted,NCP spokesperson Ankush Kakade said,We are jointly campaigning with the Congress in Pune Lok Sabha seat and there will be no problem despite both being in opposite sides in the local civic body.
The NCP chief has directed everyone to actively campaign for the Congress candidate,he said and added that the party workers will follow the leaders directives to ensure the victory of Kalmadi.
However,BJP spokesperson Ujjwal Keskar said they were least worried about the NCP leaders campaigning for the Congress candidate. The NCP might say that they support the Congress candidate,but they will be in no shape to do so in reality given the ground-level equations,he said.
The NCP workers will merely display solidarity towards Kalmadi but will not support him sincerely. People will not forget that it was the NCP that gave the slogan that the Congress needs to be removed from power in the PMC, he said. Now,everyone is keenly awaiting the instance of Ajit Pawar campaigning for Kalmadi.
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