BJP-Sena pre-poll alliance: Political rivals in Pune district set to share stage, campaign together for Lok Sabha pollshttps://indianexpress.com/elections/bjp-sena-pre-poll-alliance-political-rivals-in-pune-district-set-to-share-stage-campaign-together-for-lok-sabha-polls-5591947/

BJP-Sena pre-poll alliance: Political rivals in Pune district set to share stage, campaign together for Lok Sabha polls

The leaders in the district have decided to “let bygones be bygones” and work in the interest of alliance candidates

BJP-Sena pre-poll alliance: Political rivals in Pune district set to share stage, campaign together for Lok Sabha polls
Shrirang Barne and Laxman Jagtap

Leaders of BJP and Shiv Sena in Pune district, especially in Maval and Shirur constituencies, seem to have decided to put aside their differences and work “unitedly” for the victory of their candidates.

The leaders in the district have decided to “let bygones be bygones” and work in the interest of alliance candidates. In the light of this pact, the biggest development has come from Maval where two long-time rivals — Sena sitting MP Shrirang Barne and BJP MLA Laxman Jagtap — on Tuesday, shared positive vibes about sharing the stage and campaigning together.

“If I am asked to campaign by the party (Shiv Sena), I will certainly join them… My party will also issue directives for us to join the campaigning,” said Jagtap.
Like Jagtap, Barne too is looking forward to joint campaigning during the upcoming Lok Sabha election. “Whatever happened, happened before the pre-poll alliance was signed. I am looking forward to campaigning with BJP leaders,” he said.

Asked if he will contact BJP corporators, including those who complained against him to Union minister Nitin Gadkari, and his “long-time rival” Jagtap, Barne added, “I will not consider what happened in the past. I will personally call up all corporators and leaders from both parties, including those who complained against me,” adding that he will also call up Jagtap to share the stage with him.

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“Yes, I will call him too and will have no problem sharing the stage with him. We are in an alliance now and I feel that both BJP and Sena leaders should campaign together for alliance candidates,” he said.

For Jagtap too, the pre-poll alliance is above any rivalry. “I will wait for directions from my party. But, yes, I will have no problem sharing the stage with Barne as both parties are now in an alliance,” he said.

Jagtap, who was once in the NCP, was considered the right-hand man of Ajit Pawar until he walked out of the party before the 2014 Lok Sabha election on the issue of regularising illegal constructions in Pimpri-Chinchwad.

The Jagtap-Barne rivalry is more than a decade old. Both were corporators of the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC). Barne was in the Congress and moved to the Shiv Sena while Jagtap left the NCP to join the BJP. Both live in the same Chinchwad Assembly constituency and Maval Lok Sabha constituency. In the 2009 Assembly elections, Jagtap defeated Barne by more than 15,000 votes.

But Barne avenged the loss in the 2014 general election and won by 1.5 lakh votes. In 2017, the Jagtap-led BJP swept the PCMC polls and reduced the Barne-led Shiv Sena to a single digit figure.

After that, the two have often fought a war of words when Barne joined the Sena in criticising state and central policies. In Shirur constituency too, where BJP and Sena leaders have refused to see eye to eye in the past, things have changed overnight. Three-time Sena MP Shivajirao Adhalrao-Patil sounded confident of BJP and Sena leaders coming together.

“Certain quarters tried creating bad blood between BJP and Sena in Shirur. However, this morning, I got several calls from BJP leaders who talked about working together for alliance candidates,” he said.

In Pune, Sena city chief Vinayak Nimhan said, “The tension between BJP and Sena leaders will remain, but we will follow the party directive and campaign together.” However, in Baramati, it remains to be seen what the Shiv Sena does. The party is known to support MP Supriya Sule, who was backed by none other than Sena supremo Bal Thackeray when she first contested in 2009.

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