Scam-tainted Suresh Kalmadi gets a hero's welcome in Pune

Mar 21, 2014, 07:22 IST | Priyankka Deshpande

Around 200 supporters, including some Congress office bearers, gave a rousing reception to the outgoing city MP — facing corruption charges over organisation of the 2010 Commonwealth Games — and his wife Meera at the airport yesterday, after the couple flew down from Delhi

“I had gone to receive Kalmadi saheb at the airport, just to give him moral support. However, I am an honest worker of the Congress party,” said Congress MLA Ramesh Bagwe, a known supporter of the outgoing Pune MP. However, Bagwe chose to keep mum on the query raised by mid-day, on whether or not he would support the party’s candidate for the constituency Vishwajeet Kadam.

Flower power: Suresh Kalmadi arrives in Pune from Delhi yesterday. Pic/Mohan Patil

Close to 200 Kalmadi supporters, including some Congress office bearers, were in attendance at Pune airport to receive the leader and his wife Meera, who returned from Delhi yesterday. “We all have an old association with him (Kalmadi), and it was just for showing solidarity, as he didn’t get the ticket for the upcoming Lok Sabha election,” Bagwe added. Kalmadi, however, refrained from speaking to the media.

Arriving in style: Suresh Kalmadi, with wife Meera, at Pune airport yesterday. Pic/Mohan Patil

Meanwhile, the veteran politician will have a meeting with his supporters today at his residence, where he is likely to decide his next political move. “It would be clear only after the meeting whether he would contest the general election as an Independent,” informed Bagwe.

Before Congress announced Kadam’s name, Kalmadi, reportedly, was doing the rounds of the power corridors in Delhi to get the ticket for his wife Meera. However, in its third list, which was announced on March 18, Congress chose Kadam, and left Kalmadi out in the cold. Since then, Kalmadi supporters have been favouring his contesting the election as an independent candidate.

'Don't close all doors on him'

According to deputy mayor and staunch supporter of Kalmadi, Badu Gaikwad, Congress should not break its ties with Kalmadi. “I think Congress should rethink about its decision when Kalmadi gets a clean chit,” added Gaikwad.

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