Pune: Congress MLA declares himself the party's 'official' candidate

Though Congress is yet to announce its official candidate list, sitting MLA Vinayak Nimhan has already declared he will file his nomination form on Thursday

With barely three weeks to go before the state assembly polls, political parties are yet to develop any cohesive election plan, and have not even announced their candidates so far. But Congress MLA Vinayak Nimhan sure seems to be in a hurry, having already announced his own candidature without waiting for his party’s nod.

Shivaji Nagar’s sitting MLA Vinayak Nimhan announced his candidature for the approaching state assembly elections yesterday
Shivaji Nagar’s sitting MLA Vinayak Nimhan announced his candidature for the approaching state assembly elections yesterday

Yesterday, the sitting MLA declared himself as Congress’ official candidate in the Shivaji Nagar constituency, and announced that he would fill in his nomination form today. This, despite the fact that at least two other Congress corporators are willing to contest the election, and the party is yet to announce whom it will pick.

“I know some other members of our party are also willing to contest from Shivaji Nagar constituency. I don’t have any objections to their aspirations. But I am quite hopeful that the party will give me the ticket, and that’s why, on Thursday — the first day of Navratri — I am going to fill up the form as the official candidate of Congress,” Nimhan said.

It seems Nimhan wants to send a clear signal to Congress leaders that he is intent on staking claim on his home ground. Nimhan is facing strong opposition from former Mayor Datta Gaikwad and corporator Datta Bahirat. Congress city president, Abhay Chhajed said, “Being a sitting MLA, he (Nimhan) did what he wanted.

But he clarified that he will follow the party’s decision. We are all waiting for an official announcement from the party.” And how will Nimhan respond if the party were to give the ticket to someone else? Nimhan said if that were to happen, he would withdraw his nomination and work to help the official party candidate instead.

LS dreams thwarted
It is worth noting at this point, that Nimhan had tried to get a ticket prior to the Lok Sabha elections as well. But when the party ignored him and fielded Vishwajeet Kadam from the Pune constituency instead, Nimhan had not campaigned for Kadam.

Even within the Shivaji Nagar constituency, political leaders don’t seem overly impressed, as Nimhan’s official announcement was attended by only a couple of corporators, including his son, Sunny. No other party corporators, leader or office bearer was present at the press conference.

“See, the party has not yet announced its official candidate list. That’s why no party leader or office bearer preferred to come here,” Nimhan explained.

Courted by BJP
In the past few months, since the Lok Sabha elections, the rumour making the rounds was that Nimhan was in touch with BJP leaders to discuss a jump to the rival party. However, Nimhan quashed the reports, and claimed it was all a strategy.

“Yes, I had an offer from BJP. But in the last two months, I never said that I am planning to leave Congress. See, politics is like chess. One has to use different game plans. When BJP leaders approached me, it made it clear they don’t have a single candidate to contest against me in Shivaji Nagar,” he said.

Meanwhile, within the BJP, former city president Vikas Mathkari, corporator Murlidhar Mohol and Medha Kulkarni have emerged as willing candidates for Shivaji Nagar.

NCP MLA going the same way?

NCP MLA Bapu Pathare also announced that he would fill his nomination form on Friday, before his party could even announce its official candidate list.

“The party will declare its list by Thursday evening, and even if that does not happen, I have decided that I will fill my nomination on Friday morning,” he said.

Vadgaon Sheri’s sitting MLA will however face stiff opposition from NCP’s senior corporator and standing committee chairman, Bapu Karne, who wants to contest in the polls himself.

Karne had recently criticised Pathare, alleging he had not undertaken any developmental projects in his constituency.

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