Voters at the graduate constituency poll booth at Sanas high school, Dhayari, on Sinhgad road in Pune, on December 1.(HT PHOTO)
Voters at the graduate constituency poll booth at Sanas high school, Dhayari, on Sinhgad road in Pune, on December 1.(HT PHOTO)

Pune graduate and teacher constituency polls: Prestige fight for BJP, MVA faces its first real test

Till 10 am, Pune graduates’ constituency recorded 8.52% turnout while teachers’ constituency reported 11.38% turnout, according to the statistics shared by the administration.
By Yogesh Joshi | Hindustan Times, Pune
UPDATED ON DEC 01, 2020 05:11 PM IST

Pune: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Nationalist Congress Party-Congress-Shiv Sena alliance are all set for first major fight post formation of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government last year with both sides vying for maximum turnout.

Till 10 am, Pune graduates’ constituency recorded 8.52% turnout while teachers’ constituency reported 11.38% turnout, according to the statistics shared by the administration. Among those who cast their vote in Pune was BJP Member of Parliament Girish Bapat, who claimed victory of party candidates.

The Graduates and teachers’ constituency polls in Pune division as well as other parts of Maharashtra on Tuesday is a real electoral test for both the MVA constituents and the BJP, which has made the polls for five seats in the state prestigious by concentrating on the campaign, including one from teachers’ constituency in Amravati division and one each under graduate constituency in Nagpur and Aurangabad divisions.

Elections for Member of Legislative Council from Dhule-Nandurbar local authorities constituency will also be held on Tuesday. Only two contestants – Amrish Patel from the BJP and Abhijeet Patil from the Congress are in the fray.

For Pune graduates’ constituency polls, among 62 candidates, BJP’s Sangram Deshmukh is locked in direct fight with NCP nominee Arun Lad with backing from MVA. For Pune teachers’ constituency polls, the NCP has pitted Jayant Asgaonkar against an independent Jitendra Pawar, whom the BJP has supported. There are a total of 35 candidates in the fray for teacher constituency.

The Aam Aadmi Party and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena have also nominated Amol Pawar and Roopali Patil respectively for graduate constituency polls, for which counting will takes place on December 3.

A total of 5.25 lakh voters have registered for graduate constituency while 1.18 lakh will vote for teacher constituency polls.

BJP’s top leaders, including former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and party state unit chief Chandrakant Patil campaigned for party candidate.

“We are confident to retain the graduate constituency even as Sena, NCP and Congress have come together. For teacher constituency, we have extended support to Pawar,” said Patil, who has twice represented the seat in the past.

Given that the electorate from at least four to five districts will participate for each constituency polls, the BJP has made the polls important enough to make it a verdict on the MVA as also Uddhav Thackeray’s governance. For Pune graduate and teachers constituency polls, voters from five districts – Pune, Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur and Solapur – will cast their votes.

The BJP believes that favourable outcome in these polls will send a message that people are not supporting tripartite MVA government while the defeat of saffron party candidates’ would stave off the threat to the coalition in the immediate future, feel political observers. BJP union minister Raosaheb Danve had recently said, “The MVA government may last only for next two-three months. We are just waiting for legislative council polls to conclude.”

The NCP and its allies are focusing more on rural parts of western Maharashtra to garner voter support. During the assembly polls last year, the NCP could win more seats from rural parts. NCP state unit chief Jayant Patil has personally campaigned and overseen the canvassing process for candidates with party chief Sharad Pawar and others also joining the campaign.

“We are confident that both of our candidates will win the polls. The alliance with the Sena and the Congress will only prove as an added advantage,” Patil said at recent campaign meeting.

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