Ending days of speculations, the BJP has declared state union minister Girish Bapat as its candidate for Pune Lok Sabha seat while replacing sitting MP Anil Shirole.
Bapat was in the race for party candidature along with Shirole and city BJP chief Yogesh Gogawale. He had taken a lead over others in the last few days and had begun his election campaign by reaching out to prominent personalities in the city. Click for more election news
He has been representing the Kasba assembly segment in the state assembly from long. Among the senior leaders, Bapat was included in the state cabinet after the BJP came to power in 2014. He was holding the Food and Civil supplies ministry along with the portfolio of parliamentary affairs for the government. Bapat has been the guardian minister for the last five years and was the most visible face of the party in Pune.
On the other hand, soft-spoken Shirole was under criticism for not having a strong public presence in the city despite being an MP. “I admit I am not able to get publicity as compared to others. But, I have performed well on development front for the city,” he had said while seeking party ticket. Shirole had lost in 2009 but won the seat in 2014 with a record margin.
Bapat, 68, has been elected to state assembly for a consecutive five times since 1995. Prior to that, he was elected thrice as a corporator in Pune Municipal Corporation. Bapat had once faced defeat in Lok Sabha elections. He was also the city BJP chief in 2006.
In 2014, Bapat had sought party ticket to contest from Pune seat but Shirole was preferred over him. He later won the assembly elections from Kasba segment but was given a tough fight by MNS candidate Ravindra Dhangekar who has now joined Congress.
The Congress party is yet to declare its candidate for Pune seat and is witnessing a tussle between Abhay Chhajed, Mohan Joshi and Arvind Shinde.