The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) announcement to field its State unit chief Chandrakant Patil from the Kothrud Assembly segment in Pune has drawn flak from the right-wing Akhil Bharatiya Brahman Mahasangh (ABBM).
The ABBM on Tuesday said it would announce its own candidate against Mr. Patil, whom they consider an ‘outsider’ from Kolhapur district. The outfit further said Mr. Patil had not done anything to further the interests of the Brahmin community or the city. Speaking to The Hindu, Anand Dave of the ABBM said they are not opposing Mr. Patil’s candidacy owing to his caste. “We have backed candidates from all castes in the past … But we do take objection to the fact that Patil, who is from Kolhapur, now wants a safe constituency because he thinks voters of Kothrud are loyal,” he said.
The BJP dropped MLA Medha Kulkarni to make way for Mr. Patil, a move that has upset the ABBM as Ms. Kulkarni had endorsed the outfit’s demands in the past. On Monday, a tearful Ms. Kulkarni and her supporters sought an audience with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, demanding to know why she had been snubbed. While Mr. Fadnavis had left for Nagpur, Mr. Patil met Ms. Kulkarni, after which she issued a statement saying she would ensure the BJP State chief’s victory from Kothrud by a huge margin.
Anonymous banners denouncing Mr. Patil as an outsider sprouted up at a number of places in Kothrud.
Mr. Patil said, “I have been asked by the party leadership in Delhi to contest from the Kothrud segment, with which I am eminently familiar … My ties with Pune stretch back to the early 1980s and I do not feel that the voters of Kothrud regard me as an outsider.”
Meanwhile, the BJP’s decision of not leaving any of the eight seats in Pune for the Shiv Sena, has upset local Sena leaders and workers. On Tuesday, a number of Sena workers from Pune sought an audience with party chief Uddhav Thackeray to urge him to prevail on the BJP to leave at least two seats in Pune for the Sena.
“What is the point of this Mahayuti if the BJP does not permit the Sena to grow in the city … the BJP has complete ascendancy in the Pune Municipal Corporation as well … if at least two Assembly seats are not given to the Sena, our existence is in question in Pune,” a disgruntled Sena leader said.