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Race on for Pune ticket as MPCC wants to dump Kalmadi

Mohan Joshi says he is confident of getting the party ticket; Mankar says party yet to decide

Written by MANOJ MORE | Pune | Published: December 27, 2013 3:23:48 am

Though MPCC has indicated that Suresh Kalmadi,suspended city MP,would not be fielded from Pune constituency,the Kalmadi camp is hopeful of getting Congress ticket for its leader. “In the Congress,nothing can be said till the last moment. In view of Kalmadi’s winnability factor,the party will find it difficult to ignore him,” said Manoj Bhore,a Congress activist and a close associate of Kalmadi.

The Kalmadi camp was reacting to indications from MPCC that it may not give tickets to some sitting MPs in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Kalmadi is one of them. MPCC has indicated that it was planning to field Mohan Joshi,MLC and a strong Kalmadi opponent.

The MPCC wants to dump Kalmadi as he is facing charges of corruption as head of the Commonwealth Games organising committee,and field a candidate with “clean” background and mass support. Joshi is considered to be an “ideal candidate” who has been a party loyalist too. However,Congress city unit president Abhay Chhajed said,”Nothing has been decided yet. The party high command will take the decision… We will support the candidate the party fields.” Refusing to give up,the Kalmadi camp said the MP is “all geared” up to contest the Lok Sabha election.

“He is hoping the party will soon withdraw his suspension,” said Bhore. What has raised hopes of Kalmadi camp is the fact that Union Minister Veerappa Moily had shared a platform with Kalmadi last month in the city. Moily had also then declared that Kalmadi was “his friend”.

The Kalmadi camp argues that there is no leader to match his stature. “He has wide support and every time he has contested,that has been proved,” said another associate. However,Deepak Mankar,former deputy mayor who claims to be a strong contender for party’s ticket,said the Congress has not decided anything as yet and the elections are still far away.

“If the Kalmadi camp is saying that there was no one to match his stature,who are they to decide. Let the people decide…” In case he does not get the ticket,whom will Mankar support ? Anybody who is in the party… Kalmadi has been suspended. He has not been cleared of the charges that he is facing,” he said.

Kalmadi was unavailable for comment,like he has been,ever since the charges against him

surfaced.

“Once he was media-savvy,now he is running away from the media. If he is not ready to come upfront,how will he face the electorate?” asked a Congress leader.

Joshi meanwhile said he knew he would be the party’s choice for the coming polls. “I have already been expanding my network and have been busy garnering support,” he said. “My clean background and the fact that I have been a party loyalist for 38 years stands in my favour. Like others (Kalmadi),I have never left the party,” said Joshi.

Joshi had unsuccessfully contested parliamentary elections in 1999 when he came second to Pradeep Rawat of the BJP. Though he had hoped that he would get the ticket in 2004,the ticket went to Kalmadi. Both then parted ways,triggering two camps in the Congress in Pune.

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