Amid speculation till Monday that Patil, a Maratha, may be fielded from Kothrud, a Brahmin-dominated constituency, some posters came up in the area, demanding that a local candidate be given ticket and not an "outsider".
Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil, fielded from the Kothrud assembly seat in Pune, is battling perception of being an “outsider”, but the city unit of the ruling party has rallied behind him to ensure he wins the October 21 election with a “thumping” majority. Patil, who hails from Kolhapur, is a senior member of the Devendra Fadnavis Cabinet and is also Pune’s Guardian Minister.
Currently a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council, the 60-year-old politician is contesting his maiden assembly election. His names figures in the first list of 125 candidates released by the BJP on Tuesday. Sitting BJP MLA from Kothrud Medha Kulkarni was denied ticket this time to make way for Patil.
Amid speculation till Monday that Patil, a Maratha, may be fielded from Kothrud, a Brahmin-dominated constituency, some posters came up in the area, demanding that a local candidate be given ticket and not an “outsider”. However, once Patil’s candidature was announced, the Pune city BJP said all party workers and leaders are geared up to make him victorious. The party sought to dispel any suggestion of resentment in its ranks and maintained there was no issue of BJP workers getting disappointed over the decision of not fielding a local candidate.
“All BJP corporators, party workers and office-bearers of the city unit have decided to make (Chandrakant) Dada Patil victorious with a thumping majority. “Even Medhatai (Kulkarni), though a little disappointed (over denial of ticket), has lent her support and assured she and her supporters will wholeheartedly back (Patil),” said Madhuri Misal, Pune city BJP president.
Misal, the sitting MLA from Parvati here, said the BJP will sweep the polls in the city, the cultural capital of Maharashtra which has over the years emerged an IT and education hub. She expressed confidence the BJP will retain all the eight seats currently in its kitty – Kothrud, Khadakwasla, Parvati, Kasba, Shivajinagar, Vadgaon Sheri, Hadapsar and Pune Cantonment. Patil, speaking to reporters in Mumbai, said Kothrud has been a BJP stronghold and dismissed any suggestion of being an “outsider”.
“I am not an outsider for Pune and for Kothrud. I have been active in the city since my ABVP days and people of the constituency will not consider me as an outsider,” said the revenue minister. Abhay Deshpande, a political analyst, said there was no safe constituency for Patil in his native Kolhapur especially in view of the recent floods, which caused large-scale destruction in the district. That’s why the BJP leadership though Kothrud was the safest constituency for him, he said. Deshpande said the current reaction and disgruntlement in some sections of the city BJP were temporary and there will not be any difficulty in Patil winning the seat.
The BJP has reposed faith in sitting MLAs Misal (Parvati), Bhimrao Tapkir (Khadakwasla), Yogesh Tilekar (Hadapsar) and Jagdish Mulik (Vadgaon Sheri). However, the party has replaced MLAs Vijay Kale (Shivajinagar), Kulkarni (Kothrud) and Dilip Kamble (Pune Cantonment) with Siddharth Shirole, Patil and Sunil Kamble, respectively. Pune mayor Mukta Tilak has been fielded from Kasba, earlier represented by senior BJP leader Girish Bapat who was elected to the Lok Sabha in May this year.