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'Low demand for BJP tickets shows party popularity on wane'

As only 211 civic poll hopefuls turn up on first day of BJP interviews instead of over 500 that experts expected, political observers say it's a sign of party's dipping popularity in its stronghold.

Although the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has been working hard for the past few years with the aim of grabbing power in the upcoming civic election in the city, the first day of interviews of its aspiring candidates was a low-key affair. 


Poor show: BJP ticket hopefuls await their turn at the interview venue 
yesterday. PIC/Krunal Gosavi

After much political infighting in the party, the process of holding interviews to zero in on party candidates finally started yesterday for panels in four important assembly segments of the city -- Kasba, Shivajinagar, Vadgaon Sheri and Hadapsar. And only 211 candidates came for the interview. According to political observers, a healthy ratio of panel to number of hopefuls for any major party should be 1:15; in other words, there should fifteen ticket-seekers in any panel. 

Political scholar Dr Prakash Pawar, who specialises in civic elections, said that to receive only 211 ticket-seekers for panels in four assembly segments, which also include the BJP fortresses of Kasba and Shivajinagar assembly segments, for the interviews was a matter of serious concern for the BJP. "A national party like the BJP should receive 500-600 aspiring candidates for the interviews, but in reality less than half the number turned up, which shows the reducing popularity of the party at the local level," said Pawar. 

Pawar said one should also consider that the main reason behind getting low response from aspirants was the internal friction in the party at the national level. "The aspirants are now aware of the BJP's internal friction at the national level, which made them think twice before going with the party," said Pawar.    

There was a subtle touch of the internal dispute during the interview process, where dominance of leaders said to be close to BJP national president Nitin Gadkari could be seen. Party leaders like Yogesh Gogawale, MLA Madhuri Misal, BJP leader in PMC Mukta Tilak and party leader Anil Shirole who are close to Lok Sabha deputy leader of opposition Gopinath Munde were hardly seen taking part in the procedure.  

BJP city chief Vikas Mathkari said the party had sent a fax to the State Election Commission requesting two separate EVMs for candidates from A and B panels on election day. "Many voters are still unaware about the functioning of EVMs and if there will be only one EVM then they are likely to press the button once and because of this the candidate from panel B will suffer a loss," he said.

Fact file
10
Number of panels in Kasba assembly section
9
Number of panels in Shivajinagar assembly section
10
Number of panels in Hadapsar assembly section

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