PUNE: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress aspirants have geared up to get tickets for Kasba Peth Assembly Constituency. According to sources, two of the Tilak family members will be aspirants for the upcoming Assembly election. One is Mayor Mukta Tilak from the BJP and other Rohit Tilak from Congress. Besides, Ganesh Bidkar of BJP and Ravindra Dhangekar from Congress are also keeping an eye on developments ahead of the elections.
Kasba is known as a traditional bastion of BJP since 1962 till date. BJP always had an upper hand in Kasba due to Brahmin community majority. Baburao Sanas, RV Telang, Lilabai Merchant, Ulhas Kalokhe, TV Vithoba were some Congress candidates who won the elections in Kasba. However, in 1978, Janata Party broke this pattern of the Congress.
After that, Congress and BJP candidates alternately won the Kasba Constituency. But, from 1995, Girish Bapat is holding to the seat firmly. In 2009, Congress candidate Rohit Tilak (30.03% of votes) and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) candidate Ravindra Dhangekar (30.09%) reached close to Bapat (35%).
In 2014, Bapat bounced back with a majority of 73% and Rohit Tilak and Ravindra Dhangekar got 18.49 % and 15.35 % votes respectively. Now, it is understood that Bapat is not interested in contesting State Assembly election. He wants to move on to Pune’s Lok Sabha seat. In that case, it is still unclear who will step in after him in Kasba. Meanwhile, Mayor Mukta Tilak is projecting herself as the next candidate. Bidkar has also shown interest in contesting the election. Bidkar was defeated by Congress candidate Ravindra Dhangekar in the civic polls, but secured co-opted membership in the corporation after making a phone call to Fadnavis.
Ravindra Dhangekar, who left MNS in 2017 to enter Congress, got elected on Congress ticket from Kasba panel as a corporator. On the occasion of his birthday recently, he put a banner across Kasba Peth area displaying his photo on the backdrop of Vidhan Bhavan. These posters expressed his intention of fighting the assembly elections. According to party insiders, it is not yet confirmed whether he will manage to get a ticket from the party. For the last two terms, Rohit Tilak was the unanimous choice of the Congress. However, Tilak ended up as a second runner-up in the polls. If the party decides to give a chance to Dhangekar, then the party’s fate may change. Experts say if the Congress decides to give a chance to Tilak, they will have a tough time convincing Dhangekar in supporting the official candidate.
In 2014, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) fought elections independently which helped BJP win easily. This time, as per senior leaders’ from both parties there will be a coalition. If it happens then Dhangekar will prove to be a crucial factor in Kasba Peth constituency. As per sources, he may create trouble for both BJP and Congress.