Pune, Apr 15 UNI | 4 months ago

Campaigning for the prestigious Pune Parliamentary Constituency where a keen tussle is on the cards between BJP candidate Anil Shirole and Congress candidate Vishwajeet Kadam is ending today.

The top brass of all parties leaders, including BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, have visited twice to this city to campaign for their party candidates.

A traditionally Congress stronghold, candidates in the election fray this time include Shirole (BJP), Deepak Paigude of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), Aam Admi Party candidate Subhash Ware, Imtiyaz Peerjade from BSP, Arun Bhatia and Col Suresh Patil, both independent and few others.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi arrived here this morning to campaign of his party candidate Vishwajeet Kadam. Mr Gandhi will address a rally this afternoon at SSPMS ground.

The Pune Lok Sabha constituency has 18.32 lakh eligible voters, up from the previous 17.79 lakh voters. Of these, 9.45 are male and 8.82 are female voters.

When NCP leader Ajit Pawar visited the Congress Bhavan after 20 years, it signaled a new phase in Congress-NCP ties. It was then expected that Pawar would campaign for Congress candidate Vishwajeet Kadam so that the alliance has a good chance at winning the seat.

However, Mr Pawar has not turned up for any public meetings in support of Kadam.

Today is the last day of campaigning and quite a few star campaigners for different parties, who could have made a difference, have not visited the city this poll season.

City Congress leaders are worried about the NCP's moves. Though NCP president Sharad Pawar has addressed public meetings across the city, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar has been conspicuously absent.

The lone occasion of support from Mr Pawar came on March

22, when he addressed a joint meeting of Congress-NCP leaders. He was also present for a meeting organised after all Congress and NCP candidates in the district had filed their nominations.

However, he has not addressed a single public meeting on his own, nor has he asked his supporters to campaign for Congress nominee Kadam.

"Ajit Pawar has a strong hold over the NCP's city unit. We are worried about his stand. He has not come out in support of the Congress openly till the day of voting, we won't be sure of what stand he takes," admitted a Congress MLA.

On the other hand, BJP leader Nitin Gadkari and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray have not responded to the city unit's request to campaign for party candidate Anil Shirole.

The city unit of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also failed to convince party president Arvind Kejriwal to vist Pune, though he campaigned in Mumbai. "The party had requested Gadkari to campaign for Shirole. Gopinath Munde and Gadkari had crossed words over his candidature. By not campaigning for him, Gadkari has sent a strong signal to his supporters and the party fears it may affect Shirole's prospects," a BJP insider said.

(Posted on 15-04-2014)