Several corporators of the outgoing Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) are treading cautiously and deviating from the usual practice of predicting huge victory margins. Uneasiness is palpable among candidates as over 11 lakh voters in Pimpri-Chinchwad vote to elect 128 representatives from 64 panels.
Cutting across parties,NCP,Congress,BJP or Shiv Sena,several corporators trying to return to PCMC are pitted against strong rivals,either rebels or former corporators. In some cases,the fight is between corporator and corporator,both equally strong.
Whether it is bigwigs like Mayor Yogesh Behl or Deputy Mayor Dabbu Aswani or former mayor R S Kumar – all the three belong to NCP – or Congress city unit chief Bhausaheb Bhoir or party colleague Amar Mulchandani,Shiv Shiv Sena’s Sulbha Ubale or Seema Save,BJP’s Bheema Bobde or Raghunand Ghule,nobody seems to be confident enough to talk of a smooth sail back to the PCMC headquarters.
Nobody is ready declare himself the clear winner. “Though some candidates are putting up a brave front claiming they would win by a good margin,the ground reality is different,as borne out by huge cash changing hands in town,” says activist Shridhar Chalkha.
Pimpri-Chinchwad Congress president Bhausaheb Bhoir,looking for his fourth victory,asks,”How am I placed?” If Bhoir sounds perturbed about his fate,the mood in camps of many other corporators is no different.
Although Mayor Behl tom-tommed his victory margin,as an afterthought,withdrew his words that were aimed at belittling his rivals in the fray. “Keep it of the record…else I may sound arrogant. Just quote me saying I will get half the total votes polled,” he says,hesitating to write off opponents. The mayor is looking for a fifth straight win. NCP rebel Yeshwant Bhosale and two others have made his task tough.
IN the case of Prashant Shitole,corporator from Sangvi gaonthan,facing murder allegations,has a formidable challenge from Harshal Dhore,an Independent,besides nine other candidates.
Though Deputy CM Ajit Pawar has extended support to Shitole,there is an NCP camp favouring Dhore.
In Rupeenagar-Talawade,corporators Shantaram Bhalekar (NCP) and Raghunand Gule have an uphill ride. “It’s a tough battle,but Ghule will win…” says Eknath Pawar,BJP’s local unit chief.
NCP leader Jagdish Shetty contesting from Vidyanagar is facing a formidable challenge from Ram Patre of Shiv Sena,who is known to enjoy a good rapport with people and has local clout. In Chikhli,corporator Sujata Lokhande,denied ticket by the NCP,is contesting as an Independent against Lata Dongre (Congress) and Sangeeta Korde (BJP).
In Kudalwadi,corporator Dnyaneshwar Jadhav (BJP) battle is mainly against confusion that is likely among voters as there are three Jadhavs in the fray.
In Sant Tukaram Udyan (Pradhikaran),corporator Raju Misal (NCP) is facing strong opponents like former corporator Sanjay Durgule (Sena) and Salim Shikalgar of the Congress.
In Chinchwad (More auditorium),Vidya Golande of BJP and Anjali Gawde of NCP are making Congress corporator Jayshree Gawde sweat. In Masulkar Colony,Dr Vaishali Ghodekar,who has been denied ticket by NCP,is fighting Mandakini Thakre of NCP and Hemlata Sonwalkar of BJP.
In the three-cornered contest in Pimpri Camp,one of the two corporators in the last PCMC House,either Amar Mulchandani or Dabbu Aswani,is likely to lose. In Yamunanagar Sulbha Ubale (Sena) and S Gawli (NCP) are tied in a similar fate.
Congress co-opted corporator Babu Nair is battling an NCP challenge in Morwadi. In Bhakti-Shakti panel (Nigdi),R S Kumar,fighting for his sixth victory,is also battling allegations over his personal life and strong resistance from the likes of Swapnil Jadhav of the Congress and Prakash Dhawale of the BJP. Former mayor Aparna Doke is trying to tide over Sangeeta Kharde (BJP) and Sonatai G of Congress.
In Kalbhornagar,Independent corporator Maruti Bhapkar looks worried. “My opponents are resorting to buying votes. I would prefer to be defeated but would not give a paisa for securing a vote,” he says.
Sena’s corporator Seema Savle says,”The going is tough for me in Mahatma Phule Nagar ward.”
Only NCP’s Mangala Kadam and Rajesh Pillay and Sena’s Shrirang Barne look better placed. Even the BJP city unit chief Eknath Pawar says,”Kadam is doing well….”