Pune: An internal cold war has erupted within the Pune unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as sitting Rajya Sabha MP associated with the BJP has openly staked his claim for Pune Lok Sabha seat in the upcoming 2019 general elections.
Sakal Times had in fact just a few days ago reported exclusively that Sanjay Kakade is preparing to stake such a claim, which has led to other traditional faces of Pune BJP such as MP Anil Shirole and Pune District Guardian Minister in the State government Girish Bapat feeling the pressure from a new upcoming aggressive leader trying to dominate the city BJP. BJP party officials are avoiding direct comment on Kakade’s claim.
Since last one week, Kakade has been openly projecting himself as Lok Sabha candidate in upcoming polls. He wanted to capitalise on his work which he had done in the Pune Municipal
Corporation (PMC) election. The Congress does not have a strong candidate to field from Pune Lok Sabha seat. MP Anil Shirole has not able to establish his presence forcefully in Pune.
Kakade has been steadily growing in the city unit of the BJP. He is also working on extending his network. He met former MP Suresh Kalmadi on his birthday. Though Kalmadi is not active in city politics anymore, he still has a substantial followers’ base in the city. Kakade also claims support of Republican Party of India (RPI) Ramdas Athawale.
Kakade enjoys support of outskirt city corporators which he helped to get elected in the civic elections in a Congress, Nationals Congress Party (NCP) stronghold. On this basis, Kakade is claiming his seat.
BJP leaders are seen avoiding comment on Kakade’s claim. When contacted, Yogesh Gogawale, city unit chief of BJP said, “I don’t want to comment on this. I don’t know about it.”
Madhav Bhandari, Spokesperson of BJP said. “I have seen lots of aspirants in Kothrud area for State Assembly elections. I don’t think all of them get tickets from the party. Party has its own system to choose candidate. So, I will not comment on this.”
Pradeep Rawat, former MP of BJP of Pune who is an active RSS member said, “I am not the appropriate person to comment on this.” There is also speculation that if BJP does not give him a seat, he will contest the election as an Independent on the support of SC/ST, OBC and Minority base. He has already started meeting people of these classes and taking part in their programmes. He is also giving financial support for celebrating different functions.