The Pune Lok Sabha seat, which had gained prominence due to the delay on the part of mainstream parties in declaring their candidates, is all set to face a direct contest between BJP candidate Girish Bapat and Congress candidate Mohan Joshi. In all, 31 candidates are left in the fray.
A total of 46 candidates had filed nominations for the Pune seat. Three of the candidates failed to qualify as their nomination forms were declared invalid. Out of the remaining 43 candidates, 12 withdrew on the last day of withdrawal on Monday.
The main contest in Pune would be between the BJP and Congress. The BJP would be contesting to retain the seat it won in 2014 with a record margin. The BJP has given candidature to state Minister Girish Bapat in place of sitting MP Anil Shirole. The party has taken the lead in election campaign by holding rallies by Union minister Prakash Javadekar and national leader Shahnawaz Hussain. It would be holding two rallies of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday for Bapat. It has also planned an election rally of Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also.
On the other hand, the Congress would be fighting to regain its lost pride due to its loss in 2014 in a seat that was the bastion of the party for long. During the recent visit, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had urged party leaders to get Joshi elected. “Pune is a prestigious seat,” he had said.
The Congress declared its candidate for Pune just two days before final day of filing nomination. There was lack of consensus for deciding the seat but the party decision has infused energy among the sulking party workers. The party has so far held election rallies of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar in support of Joshi.