NCP leader Ajit Pawar on Tuesday held a meeting to take stock of the party’s poll preparedness in Shirur, where actor-turned-politician Amol Kolhe is the candidate. Kolhe, however, was missing from the meeting.
Kolhe’s office said the actor would be busy for the next three days, as he has to complete a few days of shooting for his TV series Swarajya Rakshak Sambhaji. Kolhe, who drew a massive crowd when he campaigned in Bhosari on Sunday, is expected to start the next part of his campaign only on March 29. “He will resume the campaign from March 29. After that, he will campaign most of the time, except for a couple of days,” said his office.
Kolhe, who is shooting the TV series at the Filmcity in Mumbai, told The Indian Express, “I will be busy shooting for two to three days and then resume campaign.” “We discussed the response to our campaign in Shirur. Ajitdada insisted on aggressive campaigning. But yes, the candidate was missing. We have been told to carry on with campaigning and we are doing it,” said NCP leader Vilas Lande, who was one of the aspirants for the Shirur seat. But NCP chose Kolhe, who recently quit the Shiv Sena to join the BJP, because of his popularity as an actor.
Kolhe hails from Narayangaon area of Junnar taluka. He will face Sena candidate Shivajirao Adhalrao-Patil, who has won from Shirur three consecutive times. Some NCP leaders, however, pointed out that Shirur was one of the biggest constituencies in Maharashtra and covering its length and breadth needed a lot of effort. “Every day is important, otherwise the candidate will not be able to reach out to all the voters. Besides, our candidate will face someone who has been winning from the seat for the last 15 years. If he has to be defeated, it will require real hard work and effort,” said a senior NCP leader from Bhosari.
To the advantage of Kolhe, a section of BJP leaders is upset that the party didn’t get to contest from Shirur and they are keeping their distance from Adhalrao-Patil’s campaign. The Sena MP, meanwhile, said he was not concerned about whether Kolhe was campaigning. “… I am campaigning and drawing a good response, as I have done in all my election campaigns,” he said.
Kolhe is the only star on the election pitch in Maharashtra. Recently, a Shiv Sena member had complained to Pune District Collector and Chief Election Officer Naval Kishore Ram, claiming the telecast of Swarajya Rakshak Sambhaji violated the Model Code of Conduct. Ram, however, said Kolhe had not filed his nomination paper and was therefore not a candidate yet.
“Besides, the serial is not on Doordarshan, where we can ban it,” he said.