In our series to help voters make an informed decision, mid-day examines the political dynamics and candidates in the Pune Cantonment constituency, a stronghold of the Congress
Ramesh Bagwe (Congress), Bhagwan Vairat (NCP), Dilip Kamble (BJP), Parshuram Wadekar (Shiv Sena), Ajay Tayde (MNS) and Milind Ahire (BSP)
Aside from four assembly elections – 1978, 1980, 1985 and 1995 – Congress party has single-handedly won the Pune Cantonment seat since 1962, which is reserved for candidates belonging to Scheduled Caste. Sitting MLA Ramesh Bagwe, a close aide of former MP Suresh Kalmadi had defeated Shiv Sena’s ‘imported’ candidate Sadanand Shetty in 1999, by a whopping margin of 37,325 votes. While Bagwe is confident of repeating history again, his opponents claim otherwise. With Kalmadi taking a backseat in cantonment politics and the BJP gaining substantial lead during Lok Sabha elections, the results for assembly elections may turn out to be a photo-finish.
Being cosmopolitan makes Cantonment a diverse constituency. While Bagwe claims credit for development work accomplished for the Muslim, Christian and Dalit community, BJP candidate Dilip Kamble is promising amendments in the Cantonment Act, a sensitive issue for Camp residents. RPI (A) candidate Navnath Kamble’s withdrawal may benefit the BJP, but the votes of Dalit community are expected to be divided between him and Parshuram Wadekar, who had defected to and is contesting on Sena’s ticket. BSP’s Milind Ahire is also expected to grab a share of slum voters, while MNS and NCP seem to be struggling to make its presence felt in the constituency.
Number of Voters 65,638
Total number of voters in the constituency 2,88,138
I have never enthusiastically followed politics, but now there is a sense of belonging, which is encouraging us to work for issues like cleanliness, improved economic standards and positive global identity. Our state government should also work on these issues.
- Irisha Poonawalla, performing artist
The new government should make youth-centric policies with development as the core priority, just like our Prime Minister. It is good to see the youth of India taking interest in the workings of the country.
- Akshay Agarwal, businessman