Amid speculations that sitting Pune MP Suresh Kalmadi is making rounds of Delhi to push the candidature of his family member in the upcoming elections, sources in the NCP revealed that the Congress high command had approached them to contest polls from Pune
Struggling to find a suitable and noteworthy candidate to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Pune, the Congress is having their doubts of winning in this constituency.
MP Suresh Kalmadi
Opting for the next best option, the NCP has alleged that , the Congress high command approached the party, persuading them to contest from Pune.
Accepting the fact that Pune has been Congress' fortress for a long time now, NCP turned down the offer, as their party would be contesting for Shirur and Baramati seats.
Political analysts predict that the 'pehele aap' courtesy between both parties will open doors for the BJP to have the upper hand in the upcoming elections.
"Although we have an alliance in the state and centre, we chose not to accept the offer, considering that Pune is Congress' traditional seat. We are satisfied with Shirur and Baramati constituencies in Pune district as we have a strong hold over these two seats," said a senior NCP leader on the condition of anonymity.
The NCP insider also did not deny the possibility of the absence of good candidates in Congress party adept at winning the Pune seat, which could be the Congress' reason for giving away its established seat to the NCP.
After Kalmadi's suspension from the Congress, the party received a major setback in Pune, which was evident in the Pune Municipal Corporation's (PMC) elections held in 2012 where the party secured only 18 seats, while its ally NCP won 51 seats.
"Even if Congress would consider the name of other leaders to contest the LS polls, the senior leadership in the party is aware that the party doesn't stand a chance to win the seat. On the other hand, NCP is also aware about its winning capacities in Pune and refused to accept the offer," said political scholar, Dr Prakash Pawar.
The other side
Congress leaders however rubbished NCP's claims and said that the party is capable enough to win the Pune seat on its own. "It is highly impossible that the party would offer the Pune seat to NCP, which has always been a Congress fortress. The party always contests LS elections from Pune, Solapur and Sangli from western Maharashtra and will be doing the same in the upcoming elections as well," said Congress MLC Mohan Joshi, who is one of the contenders to receive the party's ticket for the elections.
For the last 63 years, since the general elections took place, out of 16 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress won the Pune Lok Sabha seat 11 times. The political situation took a disastrous turn after tainted city MP Suresh Kalmadi got himself embroiled in corruption charges of the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in Delhi.