As the Assembly poll campaign ended in Pimpri-Chinchwad on Saturday amid continuous rain, it brought to an end the series of rallies and corner meetings held by candidates of Bhosari, Chinchwad and Pimpri.
In Chinchwad, which has over 5 lakh voters, it is a straight fight between BJP MLA Laxman Jagtap and rebel Sena candidate Rahul Kalate, who is being backed by all the opposition candidates. In Bhosari seat, BJP MLA Mahesh Landge is contesting against Vilas Lande, a candidate sponsored by NCP.
Compared to the fierce rivalry witnessed in the two seats, Pimpri reserved constituency saw a relatively lacklustre campaign, with sitting Sena MLA Gautam Chabukswar taking on Anna Bansode of NCP. Bansode had lost to Chabukswar by a narrow margin of 2,000 votes in the 2014 Assembly elections.
In Chinchwad constituency, both Jagtap and Kalate made every bid to meet voters in Thergaon, Wakad, Sangvi, Gurav Pimple, Pimple Nilakh, Ravet, Pimpe Saudagar, Chinchwad and other suburbs.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and BJP leader Pankaja Munde held rallies in support of Jagtap. Senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar and actor and MP Amol Kolhe held rallies for Kalate.
The rebel Sena candidate has also received support from VBA chief Prakash Ambedkar.
Even after the campaign ended, the war of words between Jagtap and Kalate continued. “Jagtap is worried about losing his seat. This is because wherever I went campaigning, Jagtap also went to the same spot and tried to influence voters by showing me in poor light… his supporters also circulated defamatory information about me on social media. This shows he is nervous… about losing the seat,” said Kalate.
Jagtap claimed that Kalate will not only lose, he will even lose his deposit. “I don’t think he will get more than 25,000 votes and will lose his deposit,” he said.
The BJP leader said he had relied heavily on corner meetings to reach out to voters. “I held corner meetings as well as smaller rallies at least in five rounds,” Jagtap said, adding that he was hoping for a record victory margin.
In Bhosari, Kartik Landge, brother of Mahesh Landge, claimed the response they received at rallies and corner meetings was overwhelming. “We don’t see any difficulty in winning the seat. We have sought another term to push for Bhosari’s development and are confident that voters will not deny us that opportunity,” he said, adding that Mahesh Landge’s personal rapport with voters gives him a solid edge over the rival candidate.
Vilas Lande, who is sponsored by NCP, said, he has received support from several leaders of the BJP, Shiv Sena and other parties. “Lack of development in Bhosari was my main issue during the campaign. Bhosari voters are tried of the current MLA who did little for the area,” he said.