IN YET another jolt to Ajit Pawar-led NCP in Pimpri-Chinchwad, Azam Pansare, a heavyweight leader and Muslim face of the party, has joined the BJP which has taken up an agressive campaign to capture the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation. Pansare is the second top leader after MLA Mahesh Landge to be roped in by BJP besides nine sitting corporators.
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Pansare joined BJP in the presence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Mumbai on late Sunday evening. Incidentally, MLA Laxman Jagtap, who has had a long bitter rivalry with Pansare, was also present along with another MLA Mahesh Landge. Jagtap and Pansare have apparently patched up and have decided to work as a team to achieve BJP’s objective of snatching power from NCP. BJP had first roped in Independent MLA Mahesh Landge whose proximity to Ajit Pawar was well-known. After Landge’s entry,” BJP managed to rope in nine corporators, four of them belonging to NCP. And now with Pansare making it to the party, BJP believes that it has answered its critics who called it a party with an anti-minority outlook.
“We have had several Muslim leaders…but Azam Pansare is biggest of them all,” said BJP general secretary Sarang Kamtekar. Pointing out that BJP was not anti-minority, Kamtekar said, “With Pansare joining BJP, we have once again proved that we are not an anti-minority,” he said. NCP conceded that it has lost a strong leader. “We will try to compensate for the loss…,” said NCP leader Yogesh Behl. NCP lamented that despite Pansare getting “what he wanted” in the party, he chose to dump it. “We gave him ticket for contesting MLA and MP elections, but people did not accept him. It was not our party’s fault,” said Behl. NCP is now left with leaders like Vilas Lande, Mangala Kadam and Anna Bansode.
BJP leaders said it will not be easy for the party to manage both Jagtap and Pansare who had fought bitter elections in the past and are known for their dislike for each other. However, Kamtekar said in the interest of the party, both leaders are ready to work together. “That’s why Pansare is in the party,” he said. At a press conference on Monday evening, Pansare said he joined the BJP as “it has a vision for development of Pimpri-Chinchwad.” Jagtap said he has forgotten the past and will work unitedly all leaders including Pansare. “It’s time to correct the past mistakes…,” he said. Also see P3