As polling day approaches closer and closer, every candidate across the eight assembly segments in Pune is claiming that victory is theirs. While a little confidence cannot hurt, there are indications that the election may be a much closer call than any of them can expect.
Take the three constituencies — Kothrud, Kasba and Hadapsar, three important segments where the difference between victory and defeat in the last election was less than, or around 10,000 votes. MNS’s Kishor Shinde, Ravindra Dhangekar and Congress leader Chandrakant Shivarkar, who came so close to winning in 2009, are all confident that they will taste victory this year.
Kothrud candidate, Kishor Shinde, lost the last election by 7,212 votes in the same assembly segment, but is expecting a different result this time.
“Since I lost the election in 2009, I have been in regular contact with the voters in my constituency. As a result, I defeated Shiv Sena’s senior leader, Sham Deshpande, in 2012’s municipal corporation election,” he said.
Denying that Kothrud is a BJP stronghold, Shinde said voters in Kothrud would make their decision based on the candidates, rather than the party. “We will have an extra advantage this time, due to the break in the BJP-Sena and Congress-NCP alliances,” he added.
Former MLA Chandrakant Shivarkar is also sure that he will win this time. In 2009, Shivarkar had lost in Hadapsar by 10,309 votes to incumbent MLA Mahadev Babar. “Sitting MLA Babar will face a challenge in retaining his seat in the upcoming election due to BJP and Shiv Sena parting ways. In the past five years, I have also observed that the constituency is lagging behind when it comes to development,” said Shivarkar.
However, according to Nitin Birmal, a political analyst who has been observing the changing political equations in the eight constituencies, MLA Babar’s chances of retaining his seat are still strong, better than any other candidate’s claim on the seat. “Babar has his own charisma and clout in his constituency, and is particularly sure about the Muslim votes in the Kondhwa area. Congress has also faced opposition from its rebel leaders for giving a ticket to Shivarkar, further weakening its position. Therefore, the Congress might not perform well here,” Birmal told this paper.
Similarly, in Kothrud, where Kishor Shinde is contesting, Birmal said that BJP candidate Medha Kulkarni has high chances of victory due to the predominantly Brahmin population there. In Kasba, where MNS candidate Ravindra Dhangekar had lost by 8,162 votes in 2009, he could meet with defeat yet again, said Birmal, adding further that the constituency was a Shiv Sena bastion. “Sena’s Prashant Badhe will perform better than any other candidate,” he said.