In Pune, BJP's local campaign to go on without Modi

Even as last minute efforts are being made to arrange the PM’s visit to the city, disappointed candidates continue their campaign and hope for a victory similar to the Lok Sabha polls

Disappointed as they are with Prime Minister Narendra Modi skipping Pune during his state-wide tour ahead of the assembly elections, local BJP candidates are carrying on with their campaigns in the hope that their triumph in the Lok Sabha elections will carry over to the state assembly polls as well.

Narendra Modi
From Namo to No Mo? BJP candidates in Pune are disappointed that the prime minister will not make an appearance in the city during his state-wide tour. He is, however, expected to visit Pimpri on October 9. File Pic

Before the PM’s tour schedule was announced a few days ago, the BJP city unit seemed confident that he would visit again to campaign for the party, as he had done before the LS polls. The PM’s tour will take him across the state, to address 24 rallies, including pit stops in Pimpri and Baramati on October 9. However, the ten-day tour does not include a rally at Pune.

Medha Kulkarni, the BJP candidate in the Kothrud segment, who was on her way to share the stage with union minister Nitin Gadkari at a rally in Shikshak Nagar, said, “It’s now final that Modi will not address a rally in the city, as the decision in this regard has already taken place.”

Asked whether the candidates were making efforts to organise the PM’s visit, she said, “Such efforts won’t work. We are confident that, like in the LS polls, we will continue our victory in the city.”

BJP city leader, Sandeep Khardekar, said, “Modi is conducting the Pimpri rally for all 21 BJP candidates contesting from Pune district. As he has to cover the whole state in 13 days, city candidates are already convinced he needs to visit other places as well, and are now engaged in campaigning themselves.”

While Khardekar and the candidates may have given up on the hope that Modi will visit Pune, BJP spokesperson for western Maharashtra, Shripad Dhekane, is still hopeful. “We are making all efforts to arrange Modi’s rally in the city on the 11th or 13th, as his schedule on these two days has not been fixed yet,” he said.

He added, however, “Modi is trying to reach out to constituencies he could not reach during the LS poll campaign. But, the city unit has also placed a request to the party president, Amit Shah, to arrange his rally in Pune.”

After the break-up with Shiv Sena, perhaps the BJP could use the morale boost the Prime Minister’s visit will bring, as the party is receiving tough contest even in the constituencies which were erstwhile known as the party bastion, especially Kasba and Parvati constituencies.

Trouble at Gadkari's rally

There was an uproar at Union minister for Transport and Rural Development Nitin Gadkari’s rally in Kothrud in the late evening yesterday, but not because of his scathing attack on the opposition. An inebriated visitor to his rally was reportedly hauled off and beaten by BJP workers, after he attempted to move closer to the minister.

gadkari rally

Soon after the incident, a rumour started making the rounds that the man had hit the Gadkari with a shoe. A BJP leader quashed the rumours, and said, “That person was heavily drunk. When Gadkari arrived on stage, he suddenly came forward, maybe to shake hands with him. But the security pushed him away. Nothing untoward happened.”

Dinkar Kadam, police inspector from the Kothrud police station, said, “The person (37-year-old Bharat Karad, a Sutarwada slum resident) was drunk and he wanted to shake hands with Gadkari, but the special task force officer pushed him back. Following this, the party workers slapped him. He has been sent to the police station.

If the party workers lodge a complaint, we will file an  FIR against him.”

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