Eye on ex-servicemen vote bank, PNS fields rtd navy petty officer

Binod Kumar Ojha to contest from Lohegaon; area houses as many as 18,000 ex-servicemen families; community hopeful of his victory

The Pune Nagrik Sanghatana (PNS) has fielded a retired navy officer from Panel No. 1 in the upcoming civic polls, apparently to cash in on the vote bank made of ex-servicemen and their family. Binod Kumar Ojha (45), who worked as a petty officer in Navy, will be contesting from Panel No 1 at ward No 1 in Lohegaon area. 

Fingers crossed: PNS candidate Binod Kumar Ojha

According to (Retd) Commander Ravindra Pathak, more than 25,000 ex-servicemen live with their families in the city. "If we count the family members, the number goes above 1 lakh. We have such a big vote bank that we can decide the fate of an MP, let alone a corporator," he quipped. "We have extended our full support to Ojha as he is the first candidate representing the issues of ex-servicemen." 

Fight to finish
An active participant in Anna Hazare's agitation, Ojha said that his fight to curb corruption at the PMC would continue even if he got elected. "Dhanori and Tingre Nagar are totally ignored by the civic authorities. People still struggle to get adequate water supply," he said. 

"At many places in the region, citizens get water supply only for an hour in three days. In addition, the fate of roads and drainage system is pathetic," he added. "I don't believe in petty politics but my thrust will be on a positive social work for my people in the area," Ojha said.

He has already started campaigning in Lohegaon, Dhhanori and Tingare Nagar. "Over 18,000 ex-servicemen from Army, Navy and Air-force stay in these areas which are still fighting with many civic problems for the past 60 years," Ojha said. "The PMC general body had approved reservation for ex-servicemen in civic jobs five years ago, but we are yet to get its benefits."

Ex-serviceman Anup Avasthi, who is the poll manager of the PNS at Lohegaon, said, "Senior retired officials of Major General ranks will commence the campaign for our candidate. We are conducting national flag hoisting functions at 12 different areas in Lohegaon and Tingrenagar on January 26," he said. "We want to create a true nationalist atmosphere on the occasion of this election campaign," he said. 

Ex-serviceman's wife to test poll waters
Shilpa Salunke (37), wife of an ex-serviceman Rajesh Salunke, is contesting from Ward No 2, reserved for woman candidates, on a PNS ticket. 

High hope: Shilpa Salunke will contest civic election from Ward No. 1 
of Panel 1. File pic

She said, "I want to make the women in my region self-reliant and want to make them earn money. I have provided training to over 25 needy women on how to run a beauty parlor in the recent past." Salunke also claimed that her candidature would help her to do such work for a larger audience. "I am also bound to work for my brothers working in army, navy and air-force. I shall take up issues surrounding their families in PMC house, if I am vote to power," she said.

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