LokSabha 2019: Will Kolhe bring change in Shirur?
The first general election was held in Shirur Lok Sabha constituency in 2009. Since then, Sena candidate Shivajirao Adhalarao Patil has held the fort.
PUNE: Actor turned politician Amol Kolhe is contesting in the Shirur Lok Sabha seat from Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) against sitting MP of Shiv Sena Adhalrao Patil, who was elected for the third consecutive term in 2014. The local politicians are predicting a change this time in Shirur constituency due to anti-incumbency wave against Adhalrao.
Shirur constituency is one of the two newly formed Lok Sabha constituencies in Pune district after delimitation in 2008. The first general election was held in Shirur Lok Sabha constituency in 2009. Since then, Sena candidate Shivajirao Adhalarao Patil has held the fort.
Shirur comprises Junnar, Ambegaon, Khed-Alandi, Shirur, Bhosari, Hadapsar Assembly constituencies. At present, there is a good presence of BJP in Shirur, Bhosari and Hadapsar whereas Shiv Sena has strong support in Ambegaon Assembly constituency. In Junnar, sitting Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Sharad Sonawane has recently joined Shiv Sena. Overall, the BJP-Shiv Sena coalition has a strong network in Shirur constituency. However, there is an anti-incumbency wave against Adhalrao over the developmental issues.
According to insiders and local politicians, people of Shirur constituency received a major setback as the international airport project was shifted to Purandar from Chakan after Ministry of Defence and Airport Authority of India (AAI) took objection. A decade ago, when the State government made an announcement to build an airport at Chakan, prices of land went up, big residential projects and industries were announced near the airport area. The local economy started revolving around the decision to set up the airport. However, the sudden decision of shifting the airport to Purandar affected the economy as employment generation stopped. Also, the development has come to standstill. Adhalrao being sitting MP of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena coalition government, the shifting of the airport created a negative wave against him. Local corporators had launched a poster war against Adhalrao in Hadapsar and part of Katraj which falls in Shirur Lok Sabha Constituency area, asking voters if they had seen Adhalrao. This area is an important part of Shirur constituency where 60,000 voters reside.
The NCP wanted to take advantage of this anti-incumbency factor against Adhalrao and also wanted to stop him from becoming a fourth time MP. Hence, they decided to field sitting MLA Dilip Valse Patil from Shirur. But, Valse refused to contest election from Shirur. Hence, NCP was forced to look for new face and the ticket was offered to actor turned politician Dr Amol Kolhe. He was in the Shiv Sena and he is a local. He was interested in contesting Lok Sabha election from Shirur. But as Sena did not consider his request, he took a decision to switch over to NCP who was searching for a candidate for Shirur. The NCP played a smart move while offering the ticket to Dr Kolhe. Party conducted rallies and asked people to name the candidate among the aspirants. Through this experiment, party workers and people chose Kolhe. This experiment has helped them to avoid any rivalry within the party over the selection of a candidate.
People are crazy about Marathi serial of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj in which Kolhe plays the role of Sambhaji Maharaj. Hence, people knew him from the beginning. He is one of the popular faces in the rural area. Most of the part of Shirur constituency is rural. Now, the NCP wants to cash in on actor’s popularity and convert it into votes along with the feeling of anti-incumbency against Adhalrao.