While Pune MP Anil Shirole has accepted the BJP’s decision to deny him a ticket to contest the Lok Sabha election from Pune, it is not clear if he will be campaigning for Girish Bapat, the party’s candidate for the seat.
“I am not hurt that I was denied the ticket… those who are weak get hurt,” said Shirole.
Shirole said he was ready to campaign for the chosen candidate. However, Bapat has not yet extended an invitation to him for the same.
Shirole said he rang Bapat as early as 7 am.
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“I learnt the news about not getting the ticket at 2.30 am. As soon as I woke up, I called Bapat and wished him luck,” he said, adding that soon after that, he rushed from Mumbai to Pune to meet Bapat in person and wish him. “I met him at the Pune office and wished him,” Shirole said.
Asked if Bapat had extended an invitation to him for campaigning, Shirole said, “He (Bapat) told me that we will meet and plan our strategy,” adding that he will adhere to the directions of the party when it came to campaigning for Bapat.
“I have been a loyal party soldier and will remain so,” he said. Shirole added that for 27 years, the party had given him various positions. “I was a corporator for 20 years and was in the standing committee for four years. Besides, I have held the city unit president’s post twice. I also got a chance to contest the Assembly election once and the Lok Sabha election twice. The party has given me a lot. There is no reason for me to be upset and can’t repeatedly get a chance. Someone else should get it too,” he said.
Yogesh Gogawale, president, BJP city unit, said he had spoken to Shirole.
“I told him that we will all work together,” he said. Reacting to Bapat’s nomination, Gogawale said, “Bapat is the ideal candidate for Pune and is known for his outstanding work as a people’s representative. There is a new sense of energy among BJP, Shiv Sena and RPI workers. In future, Pune will see faster development under the leadership of Girish Bapat,” he added.
Asked about Shirole’s five-year tenure, Gogawale said, “Shirole’s performance has been good,” adding, “I don’t decide the nominations… it is done by our central team. It’s better if you ask them.”
Party leaders, on condition of anonymity, said the decision to deny a ticket to Shirole had been on the cards as the BJP felt that he was “not aggressive enough” to push plans and policies among voters.
Shirole, in a statement to the media, said, “I have always tried to discharge my responsibilities with honesty and due diligence. I have been a party loyalist and will continue to work under the able leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to realise his dream of a developed nation. I will work towards ensuring the victory of the Pune seat…” However, the statement did not mention Bapat.