In a bid to pacify leaders who were refused party tickets in the recent Assembly elections, the city unit of the BJP on Tuesday announced that corporators Dhiraj Ghate and Hemant Rasane will be the new leader of the House and chairperson of the standing committee of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), respectively. Both Ghate and Rasane had sought the party ticket to contest from BJP bastion Kasba. The party fielded Mayor Mukta Tilak, who won the election.
Last week, the BJP had started the process of replacing its leaders in top civic posts by asking Srinath Bhimale, Sunil Kamble and Siddarth Shirole to resign from the posts of leader of House, chairperson of standing committee and director of PMPML. The party said it wanted to give an opportunity to new faces.
“I have received the resignations of Bhimale, Kamble and Shirole. The party has decided to give an opportunity to Ghate as leader of the House and Rasane as chairperson of the standing committee. We are yet to decide who will replace Shirole as the PMPML director,” said Murlidhar Mohol, who recently became the mayor after Tilak’s term got over.
He said Ghate and Rasane were chosen over other aspirants, in accordance with the party strategy for the BJP’s remaining term in the PMC till the 2022 civic polls. “They have considerable experience in city politics and will serve the city as per the expectations of the party,” said Mohol.
The BJP came to power for the first time in the PMC after winning 99 seats in the 2017 civic polls.
While Ghate is a first-time corporator, he is a seasoned BJP leader who has held multiple posts in the party. The son of former PMC employees — his father was a civic employee and his mother was a teacher in a civic school — he belongs to a family that has been associated with the RSS for a long time. He is known as an aggressive BJP leader who had taken to the streets many times during the rule of the Congress and NCP in the civic body. His sister-in-law Manisha Ghate was elected to the civic body in 2007 and 2012. He represents the Navipeth-Parvati electoral ward in PMC.
Rasane is a three-time corporator from Kasbapeth who is considered to be close to senior BJP leader and city MP Girish Bapat. He and Ghate are also known for taking up issues of Ganesh mandals during the 10-day Ganeshotsav.
The ruling BJP in PMC will have to face a stronger opposition now, with the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena joining hands to share power in the state. With the civic elections a little over two years away, the BJP is trying to put different strategies to maintain its hold in the PMC, and put up a brave face against the new ruling alliance in the state.