Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, “The Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress have formed an alliance government in the state. The three parties should explore the possibility of contesting the civic elections in an alliance as well.”
While the Shiv Sena has openly expressed its intention to contest the forthcoming polls to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) jointly with the NCP and the Congress, local leaders of the two parties are not in favour of a tie-up with the Sena.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, who was here on Sunday, said: “The Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress have formed an alliance government in the state. The three parties should explore the possibility of contesting the civic elections in an alliance as well.”
When asked whether the Shiv Sena was keen to contest the polls jointly, Raut said: “Although we are willing to jointly contest the election with the Congress and the NCP, we will not sacrifice our self-respect. If seats are allocated in a respectful manner, then we would like to have an alliance. Otherwise, we have told our cadre to be ready to contest all the wards of the PMC.”
Raut said the decision on having an alliance was for the other two parties to take. “The Sena is willing to contest in an alliance to prevent the division of votes. But if the two parties are not ready, we have no problem. We will contest on our own strength,” he said.
NCP spokesperson Ankush Kakade said, “Any decision regarding the formation of an alliance will be taken by top leaders of the three parties. In fact, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar has already said that wherever possible, the three parties of the Maha Vikas Aghadi should contest the elections together.”
Kakade said the local leaders of the party were not in favour of having a pre-poll alliance. “This is because civic polls provide party members an opportunity to prove their mettle and help grow the base of the party. Anyway, the decision in this regard will be taken by the deputy chief minister after a discussion with the local leaders,” he said.
Congress spokesperson Ramesh Iyer said, “MPCC chief Nana Patole has already said that local elections will be fought by the party on its own strength. The Congress is not keen on forming an alliance. If elections are jointly fought, then some party leaders who have been preparing for years will lose out on the opportunity to contest the polls.”
Sena city president Sanjay More said, “The Sena is not waiting with an expectation that there will be an alliance. We are already preparing for contesting all the civic wards. We have enough leaders capable of contesting elections across Pune city. Ideally, we would like to have an alliance. But if it doesn’t materialise, it won’t matter. We are fully geared up to contest PMC elections and ensure that most of our candidates are elected.”
An NCP leader said, “If we contest jointly, then we will have to share our seats with the Sena and the Congress. That means, we will have a smaller number of seats to contest. As it is, the Sena has always performed poorly in civic elections here.” In the last municipal polls, the Sena had won 10 wards. The maximum the Sena had won was 21 wards in the 2002 elections.
Iyer said, “Civic elections are generally fought on party strength. In 2017, Congress and NCP had friendly fights in some wards and in some wards we had a tie-up,” he said.
In 2017, the BJP had for the first time dethroned the NCP in the PMC.
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