As confusion over the party candidate in Pune Lok Sabha seat continues, senior Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Monday refused to rule out the chances of getting an outside candidate to contest the parliamentary seat in Pune.
“I cannot comment on this. It will be the party high command who will take a decision and it will be clear only after the names of candidates are declared,” Chavan said on the possibility of getting a candidate, other than the existing leaders of Congress, to contest the Pune seat.
There has been speculation that Pravin Gaikwad, Maratha leader who was associated with the Sambhaji Brigade and Peasants and Workers Party, will be the Congress candidate for the Pune parliamentary seat, as he has been meeting senior Congress leaders in Delhi and Mumbai. Earlier, the name of Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Kakade, who is an associate of the BJP, had cropped up as a Congress candidate, after the BJP showed reluctance in accepting his demand to be a party candidate.
Dearth of credible choice, Congress has to look for new face
In the last elections, the Congress had fielded Vishwajeet Kadam from the Pune constituency. He had lost to Anil Shirole by over three lakh votes. Kadam has since been elected to the state Assembly, and is an MLA from Palus-Kadegaon, in Sangli district, a constituency that his father Patangrao Kadam used to represent. In fact, he was elected unopposed after the death of his father. With Kadam out of contention, the Congress has to look for a new face to field from Pune, and it doesn’t have any credible choice. By all accounts, as of now, outsiders like Pravin Gaikwad, or even Sanjay Kakade, who is in Rajya Sabha, thanks to BJP support, are said to have a better chance of getting a Congress ticket.
However, the local Congress leaders have expressed opposition against getting any candidate from outside the party cadre to contest the Pune seat. They have raised the issue at the state as well as national levels. Congress leaders Abhay Chhajed, Mohan Joshi, Ulhas Pawar, Anant Gadgil and Arvind Shinde have been staking claims for the seat, while there was speculation that Chavan might be the choice of the party for Pune seat.
“I recently had a discussion with the local Congress leaders and aspirants to review the situation of the party in Pune for the Lok Sabha elections,” he said.
“I have clarified in the past that I am not keen to contest the Pune Lok Sabha seat. I am from Karad and will only consider to contest from the home constituency, but the seat is with NCP in the seat-sharing arrangement,” Chavan said.
He said the party was in discussion with other parties for a pre-poll alliance and it would be declared once it is finalised.
Meanwhile, the NCP has said that it was not seeking Pune seat anywhere. NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said the Pune seat has been allotted to Congress and there was no dispute over it. “As for the Ahmednagar seat, our party chief Jayant Patil has already made it clear that the NCP has not handed over the seat to Congress,” he said.
Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil’s son, Sujoy, has been trying to contest from the seat on a Congress ticket. However, since the seat was with NCP, Sujoy has apparently being wooed by the BJP.