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Surge of would-be candidates makes parties wary of rebels

Major political parties,which have already completed the first round of interviews with probable candidates for the Assembly polls,are staring at a rebellion from those who may lose the race for the party ticket.

Written by Ajay Khape | Pune |
August 31, 2009 12:10:11 am

Major political parties,which have already completed the first round of interviews with probable candidates for the Assembly polls,are staring at a rebellion from those who may lose the race for the party ticket.

With a large number of aspiring candidates in each of the eight constituencies in Pune,there are already murmurs from would-be rebels that if they are not allowed to contest,they would join other parties. Some parties may even find it tough to retain a few prominent leaders who have threatened to quit in the event of being denied a ticket.

There are eight assembly seats in the city and all the parties,barring the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS),have a large number of aspirants.

Parties that have a pre-poll alliance for the polls are in particular fearing rebellion from sulking leaders who may not get the party ticket. The city unit of BJP and Shiv Sena expect to get four assembly constituencies each while a similar number is on the cards for the Congress and NCP in case they formally announce an alliance.

All political parties have conducted the first round of interviews. The Congress was the first to take stock of the party position and start meeting aspirants when a team of the state Congress unit visited the city last week. The BJP interviewed prospective candidates in Mumbai.

The Shiv Sena and the MNS had directed their probable candidates to take up the campaign a month ago while the NCP had been engaged for the last two days in assessing strength of aspirants.

“The party is all geared up for the polls. Our workers are engaged in reaching out to the masses,” city Congress chief Abhay Chhajed said. He admitted that the number of aspirants is higher than ever before. “There is still time to ensure that there is no rebellion,” he said.

The NCP recently began interviewing probable candidates in the region for 21 assembly segments,including eight in the city,as its alliance with the Congress has not been formally announced. “We received 320 applications seeking party tickets for 21 seats. The party is going to select candidates only on their ability to win,” Guardian Minister Ajit Pawar said.

The party hopes there would be no rebellion. “We will not tolerate anyone working against the party. Those not getting ticket should not back out from campaigning and should work to ensure victory of the party candidate,” Pawar said,adding that the Congress and NCP leaders will have to work together for the alliance candidates in case of a tie-up. Senior party leaders are personally looking into each assembly segment and are keeping a watchful eye on any rebellion that may be brewing,he said. However,some aspirants are planning to shift sides if they fail to get the ticket. “I am fully prepared for the polls. There is no looking back now. I am hopeful of the party ticket and am in touch with other party leaders in case I fail to get it,” an NCP contender from Wadgaonsheri said.

In the saffron combine,the fight among aspirants for ticket is stiff. There are around half-a-dozen heavyweights seeking the BJP ticket for Parvati and Kothrud. The Shiv Sena too has many aspirants for Kothrud.

“I have sufficient experience at the local civic body and am prepared to enter a higher level. I am seeking a ticket for the assembly elections for the first time and hope to get it due to my experience,” BJP leader Ujjwal Keskar said,adding that he has urged the party to allow him to contest from one of the three seats,Kothrud,Shivajinagar or Khadakwasla.

He said the party seniors will have to take a tough call while selecting candidates to avoid a rebellion. Though the final call on aspirants in the Shiv Sena is taken by party executive president Uddhav Thackeray,the party does not want the MNS to take advantage of any disgruntled Sena leaders.

MNS leader Ravindra Dhangekar said his party chief Raj Thackeray has already given hints to probable candidates. “There are a few assembly segments in the city where the party has no strong contender. The policy of the party is clear on not having anyone from other political parties but a few people have been intimated on the possibility of contesting on an MNS ticket in case no one from the party is interested,” he said.

Pandal politics

The Ganesh festival has always been a medium for politicians to reach out to the masses. However,due to swine flu,festival lost its sheen this year. On Sunday,however,would-be contestants from almost all political parties made it sure to make their presence felt at Ganesh puja pandals in the assembly segments they intend to contest and “cheer” party workers running the mandals. City MP Suresh Kalmadi,along with party leaders,visited a couple of mandals. MNS and BJP leaders were also seen visiting the mandals since morning.

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