LokSabha 2019: ‘No party offers ticket to same candidate again and again’

Kaumudi Kashikar Gurjar
Friday, 22 March 2019

The names of candidates contesting elections on the BJP-Sena tickets are being announced. District Guardian Minister and State Cabinet Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection, Food and Drugs Administration, Parliamentary Affairs Girish Bapat, who is among the front runners for the Pune Lok Sabha seat, speaks to Kaumudi Kashikar-Gurjar

Do you agree with the view that the BJP denying ticket to the sitting MP will send a wrong signal and voters would think twice before electing another candidate from the same party?
Memeber of Parliament Anil Shirole has done good work during his tenure. However, another candidate being offered a ticket does not mean that Shirole has not worked enough. It simply means the party wants to provide the same opportunity to others also. No party offers candidature to the same candidate again and again. 

People were witness to the ugly face-off between BJP and Shiv Sena leaders. Now, as both parties have decided to face the elections hand-in-hand, will the foot soldiers from both parties be able to bury the hatchet and work towards the common goal?
Such differences of opinion are common in a healthy family and we are not different. Only thing is that our voices are audible from distance and that sometimes attract crowds. But these differences are well within the family. We have nothing to worry about. The moment we have decided to walk together, the foot soldiers have come together and have already begun working towards the common goal which is the goal of winning the elections. 

Amidst the stand-off, wherein state minister Mahadev Jankar declared that he won’t contest the election on the BJP’s election symbol, lotus, and against the backdrop, many Jankar supporters from the Rashtriya Samaj Party (RSP) have already joined the NCP. What future does the BJP have in Baramati?
The BJP has a strong network in Baramati. A candidate contesting the election against NCP’s Supriya Sule will contest the election on our party’s symbol. The name will be declared by senior leaders of the party. A few RSP supporters may have crossed over to the NCP. However, around 100 sarpanches and deputy sarpanches from Bhor, Ambegaon and Indapur recently joined the BJP. 

With NCP’s Shirur Lok Sabha candidate Dr Amol Kolhe having star power proving to be a crowd puller, do you think the BJP-Sena will face a tough contest in Shirur?
Just a few days ago, we organised a rally in Shirur. Five of the six MLAs from the Shirur Lok Sabha constituency were present on the dais. In Maharashtra, people love good political entertainment. If Raj Thackeray delivers a speech in Pune, I am sure at least 50,000 people will turn up; however, the audience for his speeches does not vote for him. A similar episode is unfolding in Shirur. People are attending the NCP candidate’s speeches, simply because it promises them good political entertainment. Voters will choose the BJP-Shiv Sena for sure.

As the BJP-Shiv Sena and the Congress-NCP combines are yet to announce their candidates for the Pune Lok Sabha seat, an aspect that is being discussed repeatedly is the caste of the candidate. How will the caste factor play a role in Pune, considering Pune’s progressive tradition? 
We are sure that true Puneites will not fall prey to caste discussions and they will choose development over caste. We know that Puneites have the ability to think beyond caste and such other factors.

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