In the closely contested battle of supremacy between the two main political parties — BJP and NCP — in Pune district in the recently concluded Assembly elections, independent candidates were virtually blown away.
Except for one independent candidate, who came close to giving a fright to candidates from the main parties, others turned out to be just addition to the candidates’ lists.
In Baramati assembly seat, which was won by senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar by a record margin of 1,65,000 votes, all other candidates, including BJP’s Gopichand Padalkar, lost their deposits. Pawar’s victory margin was the highest in the state elections this year. Padalkar, who managed just 30,282 votes, had to face major embarrassment as the BJP had its eye on wresting the seat. Interestingly, 1,517 voters opted for NOTA, which polled more votes than six independent candidates, including Sachin Agwane (248), Bapu Bhise (313), Rahul Thorat (361), Dada Thorat (284), Vinod Chandgude (355) and Madhukar M (1,316).
In the three seats of Pimpri-Chinchwad, of the 41 independent candidates who were in the fray, 35 lost their deposits. Of the three seats, the NCP did not field official candidates in two and instead backed independent candidates, both of whom lost. While independent candidate Vilas Lande — sponsored by the NCP — lost by a massive margin of 77,000 votes in Bhosari seat to BJP’s Mahesh Landge, another NCP-backed independent candidate Rahul Kalate gave Laxman Jagtap of BJP a real scare in Chinchwad seat.
Kalate was among the four independent candidates in the state who secured more than one lakh votes and the only one to lose. He polled 1,12,994 votes. “I wish I had contested on an NCP ticket, the result would have been different. The party had offered me a ticket,” Kalate said.
In Chinchwad seat, 5,868 NOTA votes were more than that polled by nine independent candidates, seven of whom secured less than 500 votes.
In Kothrud seat, NOTA’s 4,023 votes were much more than those polled by VBA’s Deepak Shamdire (2,424 votes) and AAP’s Dr Abhijit More (1,379 votes). Here, six independents secured less than 500 votes.
In Shivajinagar seats, eight independent candidates secured less than 500 votes while one polled 800 votes.
In Kasba Peth seat, only one independent candidate Vishal Dhanwade (13,967 votes) fared better than NOTA (2,382 votes).
In Pune Cantonment seat, of the 29 candidates, 26 lost their deposits including eight who polled less than 100 votes.
In Hadapasar seat, NOTA’s 2,500 votes were better than nine independents. In Vadgaonsheri seat, NOTA’s 2,400 votes beat nine independents.