After emerging as the single-largest party in the last two elections to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), the NCP is now facing the toughest challenge to retain its hold, especially with the upbeat BJP banking on its Lok Sabha and Assembly election performance.
The NCP that had ended the Suresh Kalmadi-led Congress bastion in 2007 with 42 members, also joined hands with the Shiv Sena and BJP to win the civic polls but parted ways later, gaining the support of Congress. It further consolidated its position in 2012 by winning 51 seats and held the power with Congress’ help. It is now on shaky grounds as it could not win any of the eight Assembly seats it had contested in 2014, while the BJP won raising hopes for coming to power in PMC. The NCP is leaving no stone unturned in the tussle to win over PMC, Former Deputy Chief Minister and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar has addressed public rallies in all eight assemblies here to gauge the mood of party workers and pump in energy.
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Party MP Supriya Sule too, is seen actively managing party affairs ahead of the polls and holding series of meetings of party cadre. The local NCP has undertaken an extensive drive to identify potential candidates for civic polls through appointed leaders for each of the Assembly. A list of candidates for each electoral panel is being prepared while the aspirants have been asked to apply till November 25, following which the party would conduct interviews of aspirants and would shortlist its candidates. “The size of electoral panel has doubled with four-ward electoral panel. The candidates need to start reaching out to voters from now on to cover the entire area,” said NCP leader.
Our rivals are eyeing NCP leaders, he said, adding that, “The BJP has already tried its hands on getting NCP leaders as they don’t have good candidates.” To further counter the BJP, the NCP is also working on posing a tough challenge to BJP in its bastion in the central part of the city. “The peth areas have traditionally been the stronghold of the BJP but the NCP would try to make inroads there,” he said.
Meanwhile, through Mayor Prashant Jagtap, the party is also getting aggressive against the BJP-led state government for delay in clearing the infrastructure projects here. The NCP has been slamming guardian minister Girish Bapat for delay in restoring water supply to the city. It also accused BJP MP Anil Shirole for delaying the procedure for metro rail approval. The NCP had been holding protests against the BJP for failing to deliver promises made in the State Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
The NCP has been recently garnering publicity for inauguration of completed civic projects and laying foundation stone of upcoming projects, inviting criticism from the Opposition over using PMC for its own publicity. The BJP, meanwhile, is also hitting back at the NCP for its failures in delivering even the basic civic needs of the city and causing problems in implementation of government projects. The BJP recently managed to rope in sitting NCP corporator in its camp.