Pune will get a new mayor on Wednesday and Mukta Tilak of the BJP is almost certain to become the first citizen of the city, considering the party’s strength in the Pune Municipal Corporation. Yet, all eyes will be on the RPI(A) and the Shiv Sena during the election for the posts of mayor and deputy mayor.
Of the 162 seats for which elections were held on February 21, the BJP won 97 seats, including five seats won by RPI(A) candidates who had contested on the BJP’s symbol. The NCP won 39 seats while the Shiv Sena bagged 10 seats, the Congress had nine seats in its kitty, the MNS won two seats, the AIMIM won one and Independent candidates won four seats.
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There are three candidates each for the posts of mayor and deputy mayor. The BJP has fielded Mukta Tilak, descendant of freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak, for the post of mayor and Navnath Kamble of RPI(A) for the deputy mayor’s post.
The NCP has fielded Nanda Lonkar for the mayoral post while the Congress has fielded Lata Rajguru for the deputy mayor’s post. The Shiv Sena has fielded Sangeeta Thosar for the mayor’s post and Vishal Dhanawade for the deputy mayor’s post. The deadline for withdrawing nominations is just before the voting on March 15.
After the nominations were filed, the RPI(A), to maintain a separate identity, had sought permission to constitute a group of five corporators in the civic body, but the Divisional Commissioner rejected the request, making them members of the BJP. The Shiv Sena has only 10 corporators in the PMC but has fielded candidates against the BJP for the mayor and deputy mayor’s posts. The Sena and the BJP share power at the state and the centre, but have been at loggerheads and contested the civic polls separately.
Earlier, the BJP had withdrawn from the race of mayor and deputy mayor in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), where the Sena emerged as the single largest party. In PMC, though the BJP emerged as the largest party, the Sena fielded candidates against it, sending a clear signal that it considers the BJP as its rival.