Seat sharing in Pune set to be smooth for Congress-NCP, rocky for BJP-Sena

Seat sharing in Pune set to be smooth for Congress-NCP, rocky for BJP-Sena

In the 2014 Assembly elections, all the prominent political parties in the state — BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress, NCP and MNS — had gone their separate ways and contested on their own. The BJP had ended up with a clean sweep, winning all eight Assembly seats in Pune city.

For the Assembly elections this year, barely a couple of months away, most of these parties have entered into alliances, and this is likely to complicate the seat-sharing equations in Pune city.

While the BJP and Shiv Sena are yet to finalise a seat-sharing agreement, the Congress and NCP have already reached a deal. NCP chief Sharad Pawar recently announced that the two alliance partners will contest 125 seats each of the 288 seats in the state Assembly, and the remaining 38 will be contested by smaller alliance partners.

But, for the saffron alliance, Pune poses a tough challenge as the BJP will have to part with a few of the eight seats it won in 2014. Another alliance partner, RPI(A) , has also staked claim for at least two of these seats, Vadgaonsheri and Pune Cantonment, which are reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates.

The Shiv Sena has a strong presence in Kothrud and Hadapsar assembly segments, from where it has won in the past. The Kothrud seat is represented by BJP leader Medha Kulkarni while Hadapsar is represented by state BJP youth wing chief Yogesh Tilekar.

The Pune Cantonment seat is represented by former state minister Dilip Kamble and BJP leader Jagdish Mulik won from Vadgaonsheri.

“We have conveyed to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray that the party should contest at least four assembly seats in the city, or it will be difficult to make party workers campaign for BJP candidates. The very existence of Shiv Sena in the city is at stake,” said a Sena leader from Pune, and added that the party’s Pune unit strongly needed a boost.

If the BJP agrees to the demands by the Sena and RPI (A), it faces the unenviable task of denying tickets to sitting legislators from Pune.

A BJP leader admitted, “There is lot of competition in the party for tickets to all eight assembly seats. Everything depends on the party leadership. We are confident that party leaders will consider the growing strength of the party in the city, and its extraordinary performance in the Lok Sabha, Assembly and civic polls”.

The Congress and NCP, meanwhile, seem to have reached an amicable arrangement in Pune, with both parties planning to contest four seats each. Congress is likely to seek the seats in central Pune — Pune Cantonment, Parvati, Kasba Peth and Shivajinagar, where it already has a strong support base. The NCP is likely to stick to Vadgaonsheri, Khadakwasla, Kothrud and Hadapsar seats, which are located in the suburbs of Pune and where the party has a strong base.

“The 2009 seat-sharing arrangement is likely to continue for the 2019 Assembly elections, only the party affiliations in Hadapsar and Parvati assembly seats will be switched,” said Congress spokesperson Ramesh Iyer.

In 2009, the Hadapsar seat was contested by a Congress candidate while the NCP candidate had contested from Parvati, but now the NCP has promising aspirants in Hadapsar, while the Congress has senior leaders staking claim to the ticket from Parvati seat.