Pune: Even three days after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) declared their candidate for Pune Lok Sabha constituency, the Congress-NCP alliance is still not able to decide about their candidate for Pune seat.
Meanwhile, the BJP has taken a march in Pune Lok Sabha election campaign. The party has started conducting rallies in the city. Due to delay in finalising their candidate, the Congress has started losing ground in the city. Now, workers of both the parties (Congress and NCP) have become restless.
The party has examined several options including former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, senior leader Harshvardhan Patil apart from aspiring candidates from the city such as senior leader Mohan Joshi, senior corporator Arvind Shinde, former city president Abhay Chhajed after BJP gave the candidature to Girish Bapat. However, both Chavan and Harshvardhan Patil have expressed their unwillingness to contest Lok Sabha election.
Sambhaji Brigade leader and Peasants and Workers Party member Pravin Gaikwad has shown readiness to join Congress and ready to contest Lok Sabha election in Pune. However, loyalist Congress Party leaders have raised objections as he is an outsider.
Loyalist Congress Party leaders have sent a letter to Congress President Rahul Gandhi and have registered opposition to Gaikwad’s candidature. Some leaders had alleged that NCP Chief Sharad Pawar has suggested Gaikwad name but, Pawar has already denied this allegation.
When asked, Congress workers said, “After Bapat’s name was announced by the BJP, we were expecting Congress candidate’s announcement on the next day.”
“However, nothing has happened till date. We all are restless. Soldiers are ready to fight the battle, but we don’t have a candidate. Due to differences in city unit of Congress, we are facing a problem. The party has taken a serious note of so called party loyalist leaders who don’t have followers and ability to contest Lok Sabha election. Due to the letters which they have sent to the high command, Pune Lok Sabha candidate’s announcement is being delayed.
Another Congress office-bearer said, ”We are losing a battle even before it has started. Party workers are restless and they don’t know what is happening. When we asked leaders, they asked us to wait and told us that the candidate will be announced soon. Now, we are helpless. We only have work of visiting party office, drink a cup of tea and watch TV. The BJP is one step ahead in the campaign.”
The NCP has started election campaign in Baramati, Maval and Shirur Lok Sabha constituencies. But, they are waiting to start the joint election campaign in Pune constituency. Last week, NCP senior leader Ajit Pawar conducted a meeting and gave instruction to party workers to work hard. The NCP has completed first round of election campaign in Baramati, Maval and Shirur constituencies. They want to distribute pamphlets but due to non announcement of the candidate for Pune constituency, they are also helpless.
Supriya Sule, the candidate from Baramati, is ready to file the nomination form but she is also awaiting for the announcement of candidate from Pune constituency. Pune and Baramati have come under phase-3 ( polling day is April 23) and both alliance partners are supposed to file nomination on the same day.