BJP leader lays claim to Kasba constituency

While the party may give the assembly election ticket to four-time MLA Girish Bapat, Dheeraj Ghate insists he should get it

An internal survey by the BJP may show that voters of Kasba assembly segment still favour four-time MLA Girish Bapat, but it doesn’t appear as if convincing the leadership for a ticket in the assembly elections will be an easy task for him.

BJP leader Dheeraj Ghate
BJP leader Dheeraj Ghate (centre) flanked by his supporters

Rebels in the party are giving him tough competition. A fact clearly seen at the recent BJP Vijay Sankalpa Melava, when another party leader, Dheeraj Ghate publicly showed his muscle power — 400 to 500 of his supporters arrived with banners and shouted slogans saying he should get the ticket — in the presence of the party’s national president, Amit Shah and MLA Bapat.

MLA Girish Bapat
MLA Girish Bapat. Pics/Shashank Sane

“What is so wrong in asking for a ticket after working for the party for last 24 years?” asked Ghate, a staunch RSS supporter. “Bapat is senior in the party and has long-term experience of working in the state assembly. But if the party gives me an opportunity, I will make sure it wins,” Ghate added. According to him, Kasba constituency will give importance to the ideology rather than the person who contests the election.

When asked if Ghate would contest the election independently if the party denies the ticket to him, he said, “It is the party’s prerogative to take a final call on this. However I will continue to work for the party and support the candidate who gets the ticket from Kasba assembly segment.” Ghate also said he had already submitted a written application to party president Shah, requesting him to consider his candidature from Kasba constituency.

However, it is a known fact that unlike Bapat, whose name has always been pushed by Union Minister and party leader Nitin Gadkari, Ghate does not have the blessings of the national leadership.

“For me, hundreds of my honest supporters are my strength, and apart from them, I also met Gadkariji, who is not averse to giving me a ticket,” said Ghate.

Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini — an organisation that trains social-political activists — recently conducted a survey of all eight assembly segments in Pune, to observe the voters’ preferences in the upcoming state assembly election. “More than 50 per cent voters still favor Bapat,” said Yashwant Thakar, coordinator of the survey.

He added that Bapat is a senior leader of the party, and his ticket would not be denied when the chances of forming a BJP government in the state have increased.

‘We are different’
RSS functionary Kailas Sontakke said that unless the BJP asks for the Sangh’s suggestion, it keeps itself away from interfering with BJP’s day- to-day functioning.

“It wasn’t muscle power. Ghate has shown his capability to win the election and there is nothing wrong in it. Similarly, if someone is assuming that Sangh is upset with Bapat, then it is also not true and I will call it a rumour,” said Sontakke.

‘Party knows the best’
When contacted, Bapat said that he would accept the party’s decision. “I also kept my request of getting a ticket before party’s senior leaders. However, whatever the decision is, I will accept it,” said Bapat. However he avoided talking about Ghate’s claim over the Kasba assembly segment and refused to comment on the issue.

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