Even as reports of rebellion trickled in from some parts of election-bound Maharashtra, the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership here remained dismissive.
“When the pressure inside a cooker increases, it has to let out steam with a loud whistle. But eventually the food comes out well cooked. When a worker has worked for the party for years and is not given ticket, it is natural for him to feel frustrated. But by the date of withdrawal of nominations, they will all come round,” Pune president Girish Bapat told journalists.
Although one of the instances of the rebellion was from Pune itself, where Sharad Barhate is said to be unhappy about the Bhosari seat going to the Shiv Sena’s Sulbha Ubale, Mr. Bapat swore by party discipline. “Because of our party discipline, we will not see as many instances of rebellion as in the other major parties,” he said.
On the other hand, the Congress’ Rajendra Nagawade switched over to the BJP and would be its candidate from Shrigonda in Ahmednagar.
Mr. Bapat also dismissed the MNS factor playing spoiler against the BJP-Sena alliance. He said the people of the State had realised that MNS la mat, mhanje Congress la madat [Ballot for the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena means bailing out the Congress]. The people will not repeat the same mistake.”
In the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress’ Suresh Kalmadi beat the BJP’s Anil Shirole by a margin of 25,000 votes even as the MNS’ Ranjeet Shirole bagged 76,000 votes. The MNS has now fielded Mr. Shirole in Shivajinagar.
But Mr. Bapat said, “In the Lok Sabha elections, in my Assembly segment [Kasba Peth], the MNS secured 15,000 votes. But the BJP led by 8,000 votes. The margin was slim because the voting percentage here was only 47. We will do our best this time to ensure the voting percentage touches 60.”
Pune leader swears by party discipline