The NCP is virtually out of the election race in Chinchwad and Bhosari seats for the forthcoming assembly elections, as it has failed to field official candidates in either seat. The party, however, claimed that it deliberately didn’t field an official candidate in Bhosari as part of its strategy to snatch the seat away from the BJP.
On Saturday. the party was left red-faced when its corporator Prashant Shitole, who was going to contest from Chinchwad, was disqualified by the election office in Pimpri-Chinchwad. Election officials said Shitole’s AB form — provided by the party — reached after the 3 pm deadline for filing nomination papers on Friday.
Shitole said he didn’t know what led to the delay. “I was asked by Ajit Pawar to file the nomination papers as the party’s official candidate. But now I find that I have been disqualified as the AB form did not reach the election office. I have no clue why that happened. I will talk to Pawar… but won’t say anything before having a word with him,” Shitole said.
NCP’s Pimpri-Chinchwad unit president Sanjog Waghere said the AB form of the party reached the election office five minutes late. “Because of rain and traffic jam, we could not reach the election office in time. But we have appealed to the district collectorate against the local poll official’s decision,” he said.
Waghere said a decision will be taken on Monday about which leader to support in Chinchwad seat. When asked whether the NCP would support Shiv Sena leader Rahul Kalate, who has filed nomination as an Independent candidate, Waghere said the final decision will be taken in a couple of days. There is a possibility that all opposition parties will join hands to defeat BJP candidate from Chinchwad, Laxman Jagtap, said sources.
But Shitole said he was in a better position to give a tough fight to Jagtap. “His main voters are from Sangvi and Pimple Gurav. I am also popular in these areas. The NCP lacks strong candidates to take on Jagap,” he said.
NCP leader Yogesh Behl confirmed that several top leaders of the party had refused to fight the assembly elections against Jagtap.
In Bhosari seat, Waghere said the NCP has given a letter supporting Vilas Lande, who has filed nomination papers as an Independent candidate. “In Bhosari, several BJP and Sena leaders have assured support if a candidate contests as an Independent. So, we have decided to support an Independent candidate rather than field our own candidate. This is part of our party’ strategy,” he said.
NCP corporator Datta Sane, who also filed nomination as an Independent, said the party kept him in the dark till 1 pm on Friday. “I had no choice but to file papers as an Independent candidate. They approached me at the last minute and so, I refused to contest on a party ticket,” he said.
Lande and Sane will take on BJP leader Mahesh Landge in Bhosari assembly seat.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said the party will continue to fight for the two seats. “The picture will become clear in two days. We will certainly be fighting in these seats, but will wait till the scrutiny of papers is over,” he said
We have nothing to lose in Kothrud: Top Cong leader
STATE Congress spokesperson Anant Gadgil on Saturday said the party had nothing to lose by extending support to MNS candidate Kishore Shinde in Kothrud assembly seat.
“The Congress is not contesting the Kothrud seat as it is with alliance partner NCP, as per the seat-sharing arrangement. The party has nothing to lose if the seat is being contested by MNS. The state BJP chief (Chandrakant Patil) is contesting the seat, so, the NCP-Congress alliance has decided to support the MNS candidate and there is no harm in that,” he said.
Neither Congress nor NCP have fielded a candidate in Kothrud, and the parties have extended their support for Shinde.
On senior Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam, who has openly criticised party leaders and expressed doubts about Congress’ chances, Gadgil said, “The party is for those who prioritise its ideology rather than the personal interest of leaders. If someone leaves the party for personal gains, then the party is not at any loss. Leaders who jump parties as per their interest are ignored.”
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