While the civic election is still 14 months away, the NCP, which was ousted from the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) in the 2017 polls, seems to have already gone into election mode as it is looking at “importing” corporators and leaders from the BJP in a bid to wrest back power from the saffron party.
Ten days ago, NCP leader Ajit Pawar had revealed at a press conference that several BJP leaders, corporators and MLAs were eager to join the party. A couple of days later, at least four corporators from Pimpri-Chinchwad met Ajit Pawar, triggering speculations that they will soon join the party.
“It is true that some BJP corporators are going to join us. As per the latest figure, some four corporators and at least 40 BJP office-bearers are slated to join the NCP after the gram panchayat elections are over,” said Sanjog Waghere, president of Pimpri-Chinchwad’s NCP unit.
Waghere said the party will not disclose the names of anyone. “You will come to know about them at an appropriate time,” he said.
BJP corporator Seema Savale, who has been sidelined by the party, said, “I have heard that some corporators from the BJP will be joining NCP. There have been speculations. I think some corporators are unhappy because they were not given any official positions…”.
Asked whether she has received any offers from the NCP, Savale said, “Corporators keep getting offers from other parties, but we can’t disclose anything.”
Several BJP corporators are reportedly sulking after only close aides of MLAs Mahesh Landge and Laxman Jagtap were appointed to key posts in the party and PCMC.
The BJP, however, dismissed all such speculation. “There is no truth in it. One of the corporators who met Ajit Pawar recently is our next mayoral candidate… then why would he leave the party? Another Bhosari corporator, who met Ajit Pawar, told us that he met Pawar in connection with a function….corporators won’t leave the party as it would attract the anti-defection law,” said Mahesh Landge, MLA and president of BJP’s Pimpri-Chinchwad unit.
NCP leaders said in 2017, they lost the elections as two of the party’s then key leaders — Jagtap and Landge — defected to the BJP and took several leaders with them. The BJP registered a landslide victory, with 76 of its corporators winning with handsome margins.
“Many of those who had defected to the BJP are now feeling uncomfortable because of its divisive policies. These people know NCP is a nationalist party and it believes in taking everyone along in the path shown by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. And therefore, they want to return to their parent party,” said an NCP leader.
The NCP had ruled PCMC for 15 years under the leadership of Ajit Pawar. The NCP had first ruled PCMC in alliance with the Congress, and then it had single-handedly ruled Pimpri-Chinchwad as the Congress’ strength diminished.
When the NCP lost the civic elections in the ‘BJP wave’ of 2017, Ajit Pawar had admitted that the “defeat was unexpected”. He had said the NCP lost despite carrying out development works in Pimpri-Chinchwad.
NCP leaders said that in view of the defeat in 2017 elections, Pawar and the NCP have begun preparations much before other parties.
The Congress, meanwhile, does not have a single corporator in the PCMC. All its candidates had lost in the 2017 elections. Prithviraj Sathe, the newly-appointed secretary of All India Congress Committee who hails from Pimpri-Chinchwad, said, “The Congress is being revived in Pimpri-Chinchwad. It will soon have a president and a membership drive will be launched. We will fight the election in Pimpri-Chinchwad under the banner of the Maha Vikas Aghadi. We hope to wrest power from the BJP…”.
The Shiv Sena, which has nine corporators, is also looking to tie up with the NCP and Congress in the civic election under the banner of the Maha Vikas Aghadi.
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