Lok Sabha elections 2019: Congressman Mohan Joshi has tough battle on cards for Pune LS seat
After considerable delay, Congress finally announced the name of party loyalist Mohan Joshi as the party candidate for the Pune seat, offering him very short time to prepare for polls. Joshi, 62 will contest against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominee Girish Bapat, 69, for a seat currently represented by BJP.
Joshi has been active in the party unit for atleast four decades. A former Congress city unit chief, Joshi served as Member of Legislative Council (MLC) between 2008 to 2014.
“I thank the party for giving me an opportunity to contest Lok Sabha polls. I am confident of winning the elections as people are fed up with BJP at every level,” said Joshi, who unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha elections in 1999 when BJP candidate Pradip Rawat defeated him.
As the candidate announcement has taken considerable time, Joshi will have barely 20 days to campaign. The last date for filing the nominations is April 4 while the polls are scheduled on April 23.
Several leaders had expressed desire to get ticket for Pune including Joshi, Arvind Shinde and Abhay Chhajed Parvin Gaikwad, founder of Maratha outfit Sambhaji Brigade joined the Congress in the hope for a ticket. Rajya Sabha MP and associate member of BJP Sanjay Kakade was also keen to fight Lok Sabha polls from Congress ticket though party loyalists opposed names of Kakade and Gaikwad saying they are “outsiders”. Both Joshi and Bapat are brahmins, who account for atleast 13 per cent of population in Pune.
With atleast 20 lakh voters, the contest for Pune will be a tight one as both BJP and Congress have prepared for aggressive campaign. For Joshi, reaching out to 20 lakh voters in three weeks is a challenge especially when the party structure in the city as not as strong as it used to be prior to 2014.
In 2014, BJP’s Anil Shirole registered victory with a margin of more than three lakh votes defeating Congress nominee Vishwajeet Kadam. Once known to be a bastion of Congress Party, Pune has been represented by party stalwarts including Vitthalrao Gadgil, Shankarrao More and Suresh Kalamadi. Expulsion of Kalmadi, a three- time MP, from the party and NCP making inroads in suburban areas, has made Congress relatively weak. This time, Congress leaders hope to put up a strong fight in Pune which is mostly an urban constituency with mix of Marathi and cosmopolitan population.
Currently all the six assembly segments falling under Pune Lok Sabha seat are being represented by BJP MLAs. The party also controls Pune Municipal Corporation. As a part of poll preparation, Congress unit has constituted various committees and has allocated responsibilities to individuals.
Pune Lok Sabha Seat:
Congress nominee Mohan Joshi will lock horns with BJP’s Girish Bapat for 2014 Lok Sabha polls
Joshi has been active in politics for over four decades
He is known to be a party loyalist
Joshi served as Member of Legislative Council
He unsuccessfully contested LS polls in 1999
Pune LS seat has six assembly segments:
Wadgaon Sheri, Shivajinagar, Kothrud, Parvati, Pune cantonment and Kasba Peth.
In 2014-- 18.35 lakh
In 2019-- Atleast 20.50 lakh
In 2004: Pradeep Rawar, a sitting MP of BJP was defeated by Suresh Kalmadi of Congress
In 2009: Anil Shirole of BJP was defeated Congress candidate Suresh Kalmadi
In 2014: Anil Shirole of BJP defeated Congress candidate Vishwajeet Kadam