Pune LS Seat: BJP Certain of 3rd Term; Congress Hoping to Rework its Kasba Charm

Pune LS Seat: BJP Certain of 3rd Term; Congress Hoping to Rework its Kasba Charm

Pune LS Seat: BJP Certain of 3rd Term; Congress Hoping to Rework its Kasba Charm

Share This News

Delighted with its candidate’s overwhelming victory in the Kasba Peth assembly by-elections in March 2023, Congressman Ravindra Dhangekar, has tried to take advantage of the goodwill and hopes that his success will be repeated.

13 May 2024

By Khushi Maheshwari 

The polling booths in Pune are filled today after witnessing campaigns by various political parties for almost a month and a half, with both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress aiming to secure victory after a long period of intense candidate campaigns.

The Congress has tried to capitalise on the goodwill and hope that Ravindra Dhangekar will bring home the same result after the candidate tasted victory in the Kasba Peth assembly by-elections in March 2023. On the other hand, the BJP is placing its hopes on a handful of the large-scale projects that have been started in the last several years or are scheduled to begin in the upcoming year. Since Murlidhar Mohol’s name was revealed more than 60 days ago, the saffron party has an additional advantage in the campaign.

The Congress has traditionally held the majority of the parliamentary seat in Pune. Pradip Rawat of the BJP defeated Congressman Mohan Joshi in 1999. Subsequently, in 2004, Suresh Kalmadi of the Congress took back the seat from the BJP, and held it till the 2009 elections.

But following 2014, the BJP strengthened its hold on the seat with consecutive victories by margins above 3 lakh votes. This time, the BJP fielded Mohol, a Maratha who was formerly the mayor of Pune, in response to the passing of veteran politician and MP Girish Bapat. 

Though Prakash Ambedkar’s party has failed to generate any publicity this time, Vasant More of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) is also in the race.

The Pune Lok Sabha constituency is an urban area where the Maratha, Brahmin, Muslim and Scheduled Caste populations are the main communities. Six assembly constituencies make up the seat: Parvati, Shivajinagar, Wadgaonsheri, Pune Cantonment, Kasba Peth and Kothrud. Of the six, the Congress and NCP hold one assembly constituency each, while the BJP has MLAs in four of them.

Over the course of the campaign, rallies in support of the individual candidates have been held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Rahul Gandhi, Congressman Shashi Tharoor, Nana Patole and MNS Chief Raj Thackeray over the past 1.5 months.

The BJP outperformed the Congress by declaring its candidate ahead of schedule because the latter was up against internal resistance to its choice of OBC Ravindra Dhangekar. However, when the campaign was completed halfway, the legislature was able to straighten things out.

Many in the Congress believe that beating the saffron party is achievable if they fight the polls together, following the results of the Kasba Peth bypoll. Resentment among Brahmins over the party’s refusal to consider candidates from the community was one of the reasons the BJP lost the Kasba assembly bypoll, even though the constituency was one of its strongest.

Considering this previous experience, this time, ahead of the Lok Sabha poll, the BJP nominated former MLA from Kothrud, Medha Kulkarni, to Rajya Sabha and set the stage for Murlidhar Mohol.

On its part, the BJP is trying to fight the election on its developmental work like the Metro, flyovers, river rejuvenation, riverfront development and proposed ring road. However, the Congress is targeting the BJP over delays in projects, increased crime, traffic, new airport delays and many other issues.