Dhangekar vs Mohol: Congress and BJP Gear Up for Pune Lok Sabha Battle

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Pune, 11th May 2024: In a political landscape defined by shifting alliances and electoral dynamics, Pune’s political arena witnesses a surge of anticipation as the Congress and BJP prepare to lock horns in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Following the Congress’s unexpected victory in the Kasba Peth assembly bypoll, the party remains buoyant, aiming to sustain its momentum in the larger battleground for the Pune Lok Sabha seat. Leading their charge is seasoned campaigner Ravindra Dhangekar, deployed by Congress to challenge the dominance of BJP, its primary adversary.

In response, the saffron party has fielded Murlidhar Mohol to defend the constituency, previously held by BJP stalwart Girish Bapat until his demise in March last year. Tasked with understanding the electorate’s concerns better, Mohol faces a daunting challenge amidst a plethora of issues plaguing Pune, including transportation woes, traffic congestion, water scarcity, and pollution.

Mohol’s selection over heavyweight contenders like ex-MLA Jagdish Mulik and former Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Kakade underscores BJP’s strategic manoeuvring. Despite Congress’s triumph in the Kasba Peth bypoll, BJP’s city unit president Dheeraj Ghate remains confident, citing the party’s strong presence in Pune and the central government’s investment in crucial infrastructure projects.

However, a Congress spokesperson asserts that BJP’s reluctance to contest the LS bypoll indicates a fear of defeat, citing discontent among citizens over unfulfilled promises and stalled projects during BJP’s municipal tenure.

Adding a layer of complexity to the electoral landscape is the entry of former corporator Vasant More, representing the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), promising a triangular contest. With VBA securing the third position in 2019, More’s candidacy poses a potential challenge to both Congress and BJP.

Traditionally a Congress stronghold, Pune witnessed BJP’s ascendency in recent years, with Anil Shirole and Girish Bapat clinching victories in 2014 and 2019 respectively. However, with four out of six assembly segments under BJP’s control, Mohol aims to capitalize on the party’s dominance.

As the election date draws near, high-profile campaigners from both sides intensify their efforts to sway the electorate, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Nitin Gadkari, and Devendra Fadnavis among those rallying support.

On May 13, Pune’s electorate of about 20 lakh voters will cast their ballots, determining the city’s next parliamentarian amidst a fiercely contested electoral battleground.