Unpredictable contest in the offing in Pune, Pimpri

first_imgPune: A combined 37 lakh voters across 73 panels in the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad townships will exercise their franchise on Tuesday for the civic polls.Despite pretensions to being a ‘Smart City’, Pune continues to be ridden with nightmarish traffic snarls, rutty roads and chronic water shortages.Against the backdrop of these issues, candidates in the fray are acutely aware of the importance of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municiapl Corporation (PCMC) civic polls.In the PMC panel list, number 25 in the city’s Wanowrie area features a crucial contest between incumbent mayor Prashant Jagtap of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and the Bharatiya Janata Party loyalist Prasad Hole.The panel has a populace of Defence personnel and servicemen.The BJP has pulled out all stops to ensure the Mayor’s defeat. The party got Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to campaign in the area last week, in a bid to win the hearts and minds of servicemen.Dynastic tussleThe PMC’s panel 9, which comprises the Baner-Pashan-Balewadi area, is set to witness a dynastic tussle between political families who’ve owned land in this region.Chandrashekhar Nimhan, son of the Shiv Sena’s city unit chief Vinayak Nimhan, is seeking re-election for the second time on a Sena ticket after having been elected on a Congress ticket in 2012.Despite the area considered as a territory of the Nimhans, Mr. Chandrashekhar faces stiff competition from sitting NCP corporator Baburao Chandere. The panel is one of the clusters that are to be developed under the ‘Smart City’ project. A number of vital issues are at stake here, namely the rejuvenation of the ecologically sensitive Pashan Lake and the improvement of key roads connecting the Hinjewadi IT Park and the Balewadi Sports Complex.The PMC’s posh Model Colony panel will witness another critical fight; between the BJP’s Siddharth Shirole, son of the party’s city MP Anil Shirole, who takes on the NCP’s Balasaheb Bodke. Family against familyIn the NCP’s bastion of Pimpri-Chinchwad, the Pimple-Saudagar panel has the dominant Kate family pitted against each other, with Sheetal Kate of the NCP contesting against relative Shatrughan Kate, who jumped the NCP to contest on a BJP ticket.Despite the forced transformation of this panel into an upmarket area, key issues — like lack of good schools and recreational amenities like decent parks — continue to bedevil the area.The BJP has left no stone unturned to supplant the NCP’s 10-year rule in both the civic bodies, with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, along with some Central Ministers, campaigning owing to the party’s lack of prominent faces in the city.Close contestThe NCP, while rattled by defections of its brass to the BJP in the PCMC, still appears to be in the reckoning owing to Sharad Pawar’s extensive campaigning.Egged on by Uddhav Thackeray, the Sena hopes to make steady gains. The Congress, despite campaigns by its top leaders, appears to lack focus. The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) hopes to eat into the minority votes previously held by the Congress and the NCP.One party whose stock appears to be on decline is Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, despite an impressive performance in the previous civic polls. This is reflected in the MNS’s haphazard campaign, which barely featured one curiously muted public address in the city by Mr. Thackeray. Election watcher Harshal Lohokare said, “The allure of the 2017 civic polls is its sheer unpredictability. While the BJP is poised to make gains in the PCMC, the NCP is not going to be easy to dislodge. It appears to be a neck-to-neck contest.”last_img

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