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After Patole’s call on civic polls, Cong prepares to go solo in Pune

Pune: Anticipating fewer seats in alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena in municipal corporation elections, the Congress has started preparations to contest the civic elections solo with the support of local leaders. The party has started preparations following the announcement by state unit chief Nana Patole to contest the polls alone.

“If Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) contests the civic elections together, it is clear that NCP will offer few seats to the Congress Party. If the Congress contests fewer seats, it is clear that its elected members would be fewer,” said a senior party leader from Pune requesting anonymity. His remarks came two days after Prithviraj Chavan held a meeting with local leaders taking stock for the upcoming elections.

The same leader said, “If we consider Pune Municipal Corporation, total seats are 161 and the Congress won the second position at hardly 30 places. It means if there would be an alliance, the NCP and the Shiv Sena will offer hardly 40 seats to the party to contest. If there are a total of 170 seats and the Congress would get hardly 40 seats, which means the party had no representation in most parts of the city.

Recently, Congress state unit president Patole sought to contest the local self-government elections on its own, much to the unease of other two partners – NCP and Sena. Patole said, “We will contest municipal and Zilla Parishad elections separately, but will take a call at the local level.”

Earlier this week, Patole met party leader Rahul Gandhi and he too supported the former’s stand. Congress leader Mohan Joshi said, “We have already started preparations in Pune city to contest alone. We have even appointed leaders at the assembly constituency level. However, post elections, there may be a chance we strike an alliance. We would ensure that our stand would not help the Bharatiya Janata Party.”

Former city unit president Abhay Chhajed said, “If the Congress would contest elections separately, it will help the party to increase its base. We can get candidates in each ward and will get party workers in that area which is missing now. But elections are far away. Usually, alliance decisions happen a month before the election, but if we start preparations from now, it would help to create a mass base.”

Another Congress leader Arvind Shinde also supported the stand. He said, “The state unit president Nana Patole’s stand is welcomed by party workers. It would definitely help to increase the party base.”

Another Congress leader Sanjay Balgude said, “If we go for the alliance, it is clear that the Congress would get less seats to contest. There are some formulas for seat sharing and it is mainly on sitting and runner-up seats. Party president Nana Patole’s stand is right which will help the party to garner more base at the grassroots level. If we do alliance, it is clear that we would not have the representation in the alliance partners wards.”

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