PMC bypolls a litmus test for the ruling as well as opposition parties

Ashish Jadhav
Saturday, 23 September 2017

“We have already declared that if anyone from Navnath Kamble’s family contested the bypoll, Congress would neither field its candidate nor support any candidate against a member of Kamble’s family as Kamble’s death is an irreversible loss to the Ambedkar movement,” city Congress chief Ramesh Bagwe said.

PUNE: The Koregaon Park-Ghorpadi ward bypoll on October 11, being held six months after the BJP came to power in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) with a thumping majority, will be a litmus test for the ruling BJP and opposition to gauge public mood against the backdrop of price rise.

The seat fell vacant following the untimely death of deputy mayor Navnath Kamble in May this year. Kamble belonged to the RPI (A). However, he contested as the official BJP candidate on the lotus symbol after forming an alliance with the BJP and got elected.

The party is fielding Kamble’s daughter Himali from the vacant seat. She filed her nomination papers on Friday in the presence of District Guardian Minister Girish Bapat, city BJP chief Yogesh Gogawale, BJP MLA from Hadapsar Yogesh Tilekar and Deputy Mayor Dr Siddharth Dhende.

But neither the BJP nor the RPI (A) reached any conclusion about which symbol Himali will contest on and the decision in this regard will be taken later. Dhende said a final decision about the symbol will be taken on September 27 only after holding discussions with RPI (A) chief Ramdas Athavale.

The NCP, which secured the second highest votes during February 2017 civic polls from the ward against Kamble, decided to contest the bypoll, while its alliance partner Congress decided not to support the NCP’s official candidate as a tribute to Navnath Kamble. “We have already declared that if anyone from Navnath Kamble’s family contested the bypoll, Congress would neither field its candidate nor support any candidate against a member of Kamble’s family as Kamble’s death is an irreversible loss to the Ambedkar movement,” city Congress chief Ramesh Bagwe said.

However, the NCP, which got applications from five aspirants for contesting the bypoll, declared the candidature of Dhananjay Gaikwad and filed his nomination papers on Saturday to contest the bypoll.

Keeping all cards close to its chest, the NCP said it is against the BJP’s official candidate. If Himali Kamble is the official candidate of the RPI, then the party would reconsider its decision to contest against her. “It is an ideological fight with the BJP. So, we will definitely field our candidate against the BJP. But we respect Navnath Kamble’s contribution to the Ambedkar movement. So, we will consider to support Himali’s candidature if she contests as an RPI (A) candidate,” NCP chief Vandana Chavan told Sakal Times.

When asked whether the bypoll would be a mandate on the BJP’s three-year rule at the Centre and the State, Chavan said, “Normally, issues for the local body, the assembly and the Lok Sabha elections are different. But we experienced Modi wave during all past elections held from top to bottom. So, now the bypoll will be surely a test for the ruling and the opposition parties as well.”

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