The Pune Lok Sabha seat, which fell vacant after the death of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Girish Bapat, has now become a bone of contention among the stakeholders of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA).
Pune Lok Sabha seat was considered a Congress bastion till 2014.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Ajit Pawar had recently expressed his desire that the NCP should contest this Lok Sabha seat as the Congress has lost the seat in the last two consecutive elections.
“I was thinking that there will be no by-election for the Pune Lok Sabha seat as the general elections are a year from now. However, there is a possibility of a by-election on the seat that fell vacant due to the death of BJP MP Girish Bapat.
“We have 40 councilors in the municipal corporation, while our colleague has 10. Besides, we have two MLAs in our city. In my opinion, the party which is showing more strength should be given a chance. [to contest], The last elections to local bodies and assembly elections show that we have more strength.
While Pune Congress leaders did not react to Pawar’s statement, senior Congress leader and former minister Vijay Wadettiwar said, “The Congress has been contesting this seat for years and this time too, it will be with the party. “
Pune district has four Lok Sabha seats – Pune, Baramati, Shirur and Maval constituencies. As per the old seat-sharing formula between the Congress and the NCP (before the MVA came into existence), the remaining three seats, except Pune, are with the NCP.
SHIV SENA UBT’S STANCE
Shiv Sena Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray (UBT) MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut also gave his response by tweeting on this issue. According to Raut, “Like the Kasba Peth bypoll, Pune can also be won by the MVA. There should not be a fight to increase the number of seats in the alliance. Winning ability should be considered and we all have to sacrifice a little to save the Constitution and democracy.”
Raut has indicated that Shiv Sena supports UBT Pawar and NCP considering their winnability.
Talking to News18, Raut said, ‘In the first round of Lok Sabha seat-sharing for the MVA, we will discuss the seats that are with the BJP so far. Later, we will discuss the seats that all the stakeholders of MVA hold. The seats on which our alliance partners are winning will not be discussed, but the seats on which our alliance partners are losing will definitely be discussed. NCP is winning the Shirur Lok Sabha seat, so although Shiv Sena is contesting on it, we will not discuss it. Same is the case for Maval, which is a traditional seat of Shiv Sena and we have been winning consistently. Though the party has split recently, we have a good candidate for the seat.”
Maval was the seat from where Pawar’s son Parth contested the last Lok Sabha elections and lost to the Shiv Sena. Though Barne is no longer with the Uddhav Thackeray faction, Raut has claimed that his party has another good candidate for the seat.
After the split in Shiv Sena, the scenario has also changed in MVA. NCP has become number one party and Shiv Sena number two. As such, the Congress, which is number three in the MVA, is trying its best to ride on the recent Kasba Peth by-polls and the victory in the Karnataka state assembly to protect its traditional Lok Sabha seats from alliance partners.