BJP’s RS pick Medha Kulkarni: A bid to woo Pune’s Brahmins, placate loyalists - Hindustan Times
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BJP’s RS pick Medha Kulkarni: A bid to woo Pune’s Brahmins, placate loyalists

Feb 14, 2024 10:52 PM IST

Kulkarni, a 54-year-old leader who served thrice as corporator in Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), and a legislator from Kothrud, is the only woman candidate among all the names announced so far by political parties

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday nominated three leaders, including Medha Kulkarni, for the Rajya Sabha, with the likelihood of an uncontested election on February 27 if not more than six individuals file nominations by Thursday for the same number of available seats from Maharashtra.

Through Kulkarni’s nomination, the BJP has attempted to placate the Brahmin community from Pune ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and at the same time sent a message to old loyalists that they are not ignored by the party. (HT PHOTO)
Through Kulkarni’s nomination, the BJP has attempted to placate the Brahmin community from Pune ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and at the same time sent a message to old loyalists that they are not ignored by the party. (HT PHOTO)

Kulkarni, a 54-year-old leader who served thrice as corporator in Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), and a legislator from Kothrud, is the only woman candidate among all the names announced so far by political parties.

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Through Kulkarni’s nomination, the BJP has attempted to placate the Brahmin community from Pune ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and at the same time sent a message to old loyalists that they are not ignored by the party.

After being denied ticket in the 2019 assembly polls, Kulkarni, a lecturer by profession, was feeling sidelined for the last five years and had raised her objection multiple times before the party made her the vice-president of BJP Mahila Morcha unit.

Kothrud, the western part of Pune which she represented for 15 years as corporator, and five years in the state assembly as MLA between 2014 and 2019, has strong Brahmin population. Back then, Kulkarni had defeated Shiv Sena’s Chandrakant Mokate by around 64,000 votes. Kothrud is considered one of the strongest bastions for the BJP, which in 2019 offered ticket from here to the then state unit chief Chandrakant Patil over Kulkarni.

Brahmins account for more than 15 per cent electorate in some assembly constituencies and are key to the BJP’s win. Last year, the BJP had denied ticket to members of Mukta Tilak family during the Kasba Peth assembly bypolls necessitated due to her demise. The Brahmins were upset that the party fielded a non-brahmin face, which resulted in BJP losing the seat.

After receiving the nomination, Kulkarni said, “I am very happy for getting such a big opportunity in the Upper House. I will try to give justice to the position.” She also thanked senior leaders at the Centre and state, including Devendra Fadnavis and Chandrashekhar Bawankule.

When asked if she was sidelined for raising voice since last few years, Kulkarni said, “I was not asking for any specific post, but it’s true that as a hardcore worker, I was seeking opportunity to work for the party.”

Hindustan Times in its Wednesday edition had reported that Kulkarni’s name is being considered for Rajya Sabha as she had applied for the no dues certificate from PMC, which is a mandatory document to be attached with nomination papers.

Besides Kulkarni, BJP has nominated former chief minister and ex-Congress leader Ashok Chavan, and Ajit Gopchade for RS.

Known to have strong association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Kulkarni’s name was previously also considered for mayoral candidate after the saffron party came to power in the civic body for the first time in 2017. At a RSS-affiliated organisations’ national executive meeting held in Pune recently, participants advocated for more representation to women.

The BJP leader said all this helped Kulkarni to get chance for Rajya Sabha.

Interestingly, Kulkarni’s name did not figure in the nine names that state BJP unit had sent to central leadership for RS polls. From Pune, Harshawardhan Patil, who joined the party in 2019 by deserting the Congress, was also considered among other names.

With Kulkarni being nominated for the Rajya Sabha, number of aspirants in the Lok Sabha race has come down by one.

BJP’s LS face for Pune

The BJP had Brahmin face in Medha Kulkarni, which means the party may think about a non-Brahmin candidate for Lok Sabha from Pune. Another consideration is that Kulkarni is from Kothrud assembly constituency. The party will have to think twice before announcing the Lok Sabha candidate as former mayor Murlidhar Mohol, who is an aspirant for LS nomination, is also from Kothrud. Chandrakant Patil would have less competition for getting the assembly seat from Kothrud, according to political observers.

The RS candidate

Medha Kulkarni, 54, has served as principal at Seva Sadan DEd College. First elected as corporator in 2002, she held the post for three terms. In 2014, Kulkarni was elected as MLA from Kothrud. Medha and her husband Vishram Kulkarni have strong association with the RSS.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Yogesh Joshi is Assistant Editor at Hindustan Times. He covers politics, security, development and human rights from Western Maharashtra.

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