At least 50 corporators, including Mayor Mukta Tilak and Deputy Mayor Siddarth Dhende, from the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) are hopeful of finding a place in the Legislative Assembly by contesting the forthcoming state elections.
The eight assembly seats in the city — Parvati, Pune Cantonment, Kasba Peth, Kothrud, Shivajingar, Vadgaonsheri, Khadakwasla and Hadapsar — were all won by the BJP in the 2014 assembly elections, in which all prominent state parties, Congress, NCP, BJP, Shiv Sena and MNS, had contested separately. The maximum number of aspirants are from the BJP. The party is not only in power in the PMC, it has also strengthened its base in the city by winning the Lok Sabha seat with a record margin.
The biggest BJP leaders in PMC — Mayor Mukta Tilak, Deputy Mayor Siddarth Dhende, Leader of the House Srinath Bhimale and City Improvement Committee chairperson Amol Balwadkar, as well as former standing committee chairman Murlidhar Mohol, have thrown their hats in the ring for a party ticket to contest the assembly polls.
The number of corporators from other parties who are vying for assembly tickets is also high. Leader of Shiv Sena in the PMC, Prithviraj Sutar, and his predecessor Sanjay Bhosale have expressed their willingness to contest the assembly elections. From NCP, party leader in PMC Dilip Barate and his predecessor Chetan Tupe, and former mayors Dattatraya Dhankawade and Vaishali Bankar want to contest the assembly elections, while Congress leader in PMC, Arvind Shinde, and former deputy mayor Ulhas Bagul are also hopeful of a ticket to contest the polls.
Each assembly segment in the city has several aspirants from the same party.
Parvati: BJP corporators Srinath Bhimale, Rajendra Shilimkar and Gopal Chintal are among probable candidates, as is city BJP chief Madhuri Misal. Misal, a two-term legislator, has also served as a corporator in the PMC earlier. Congress leader and former deputy mayor Ulhas Bagul, NCP corporator Ashwini Kadam and Shiv Sena corporator Bala Oswal are among the aspirants from other parties.
Kasbapeth: A similar narrative is playing out in this segment, located in central Pune, where several aspirants are from the BJP, including Mayor Mukta Tilak and party corporators such as Ganesh Bidkar, Hemant Rasane, Dheeraj Ghate and Mahesh Ladkat.
Pune’s erstwhile guardian minister Girish Bapat used to be the MLA from Kasbapeth, before he successfully contested the Lok Sabha election from Pune seat earlier this year.
Other BJP leaders who are keen on contesting this seat include former corporators Dilip Kalokhe and Ashok Yenpure, as well as the MP’s daughter-in-law, Swara Bapat. Senior Congress leader Arvind Shinde and corporator Ravindra Dhangekar are also hopeful about contesting from Kasbapeth, and so are Shiv Sena leaders Vishal Dhanawade and Pallavi Jawle, and NCP leaders Vanraj Andekar and Laxmi Dudhane.
Shivajinagar: BJP corporators Vijay Shewale, Neelima Khade, Archana Musale, Jyotsana Ekbote and Siddarth Shirole, son of former city MP Anil Shirole, have sought party tickets, along with sitting legislator Vijay Kale.
Kothrud: BJP corporators Murlidhar Mohol, Sushil Mengde, Manjushree Khardekar and Amol Balwadkar are in the running for a party ticket for the seat, currently held by Medha Kulkarni. Shiv Sena leader Prithviraj Sutar and NCP leader Dilip Barate also want to contest from this assembly segment.
Pune Cantonment: The assembly seat is currently represented by Dilip Kamble of BJP. Shiv Sena corporator Vishnu Harihar and Congress corporator Avinash Bagawe are keen to contest from this seat.
Vadgaonsheri: The list of aspirants for this seat include Shiv Sena corporators Avinash Salve and Sanjay Bhosale, and NCP corporators Sunil Tingre and Mahendra Pathare. BJP’s Jagdish Mulick won the seat the last time.
Khadakwasla: Sitting BJP legislator Bhimrao Tapkir now faces a challenge from fellow party leaders and corporators Prasanna Jagtap Raju Laygude and Dilip Wede-Patil. From the opposition, NCP corporators Sachin Dodke and Dattatraya Dhankawade have sought a party ticket from this seat.
Hadapsar: Another in-demand assembly segment, aspirants for this seat include Chetan Tupe, Prashant Jagtap, Yogesh Sasane, Vaishali Bankar and Nanda Lonkar of NCP, while
Pramod Bhangire of Shiv Sena and Vasant More of MNS have also expressed an interest in contesting from this seat.