MNS candidate defies party line, says won't bank on Modi's image

Deepak Paigude is not in favour of contesting LS polls by brandishing brand Modi, and has thrown an open challenge to his contenders

While declaring the first list of Lok Sabha candidates, MNS chief Raj Thackeray yesterday claimed that the elected MPs of his party would support BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. Contradictory to this, MNS Pune constituency candidate Deepak Paigude clearly stated that he will not contest elections in the name of Modi and is confident of winning the Pune seat against the BJP and Congress.

Backing himself: Deepak Paigude. Pic/Mohan Patil

“MNS is contesting Lok Sabha elections independently. Raj Thackeray had stated that elected MNS MPs will support Modi for the PM post later. So we are going to fight elections independently, without banking on Modi’s image,” Paigude said in his first media interaction after the party declared his name on Sunday.

Out of seven MNS Lok Sabha candidates only Paigude is going to fight head-on with BJP candidate in the Pune constituency.

With MNS declaring a strong candidate, the wicket has become slippery for the BJP who has not yet finalised their contestant.

According to sources, the fight for candidature is between party city president Anil Shirole and MLA Girish Bapat.

When asked who is a tougher contestant amongst the two Paigude said, “Both are tough and at the same time both are easy!”

In the 2009 LS polls, MNS was successful in securing 76,000 votes by directly impacting BJP’s then LS candidate Anil Shirole, who lost the election against Congress’s Suresh Kalmadi with a difference of 25,000 votes.

As to whether the upcoming elections will see the same fate Paigude retorted, “From 76,000 votes in 2009, MNS had increased its strength to 3,87,000 votes in PMC elections in 2012. This shows how strong the party is in the city. So this time we will surely win the seat.”

BJP MLA Girish Bapat refused to react on Paigude’s comment by saying he will speak only after his party will announce its candidate.

Refuting the rumours that BJP may announce a ‘dummy’ candidate for Pune seat after the Gadkari-Raj tie up Bapat said, “BJP will fight the election with full force. The ongoing Modi wave will definitely help party to win Pune seat.”

All options open?

As the political equations are changing constantly, it seems that all options are open for BJP and MNS. The BJP city unit consists of two factions — MLA Girish Bapat group loyal to Nitin Gadkari, and city president Anil Shirole’s group that supports Gopinath Munde. Considering Gadkari-Raj’s rapport, there is a possibility that Gadkari-led Bapat group will agree to Shirole’s name as Raj has declared a strong candidate for the city. It’s possible that with Bapat in the fray Raj may ask Paigude to withdraw.

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