Voting Wraps Up In Pune’s Chinchwad, Kasba, Voter Turnout At 50 Percent
A voter turnout of 50.47 per cent was recorded in the by-election to Chinchwad Assembly seat and 50.06 per cent in Kasba Peth Assembly segment in Maharashtra’s Pune district on Sunday, with the ruling as well as opposition camps expressing confidence about the victory of their respective candidates.
The voting was held between 7 am and 6 pm and the fate of the candidates was sealed in electronic voting machines (EVMs). The counting of votes will take place on March 2.
In Kasba constituency, the Congress accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of using money power to lure voters, but the ruling party countered it saying that since the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) was staring at a defeat, it was making “frivolous allegations”.
“Chinchwad constituency recorded a voter turnout of 50.47 per cent, while in Kasba it was 50.06 per cent,” a district election official said.
The bypolls to Kasba Peth and Chinchwad constituencies were necessitated due to the death of their respective Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs Mukta Tilak and Laxman Jagtap.
In the Kasba seat in Pune city, the contest was between BJP’s Hemant Rasane and Congress’s Ravindra Dhangekar, who was supported by the MVA alliance of the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray).
In Chinchwad, an industrial township near Pune city, the contest was between Ashwini Jagtap of the BJP and Nana Kate of the NCP. Shiv Sena (UBT) rebel Rahul Kalate was also in the fray in Chinchwad constituency, making it a triangular contest.
According to political analysts, the results of these bypolls, which saw a high-voltage campaign by senior leaders from various parties, will set the tone for the forthcoming elections in the state, including of the cash-rich Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and other civic bodies.
Congress leader Mohan Joshi said, “Looking at the overall polling percentage, Dhangekar will win the Kasba bypoll by 8,000 to 10,000 votes.” In this by-election, the BJP used the entire government machinery, money power and muscle power, he alleged.
“But despite all this, Dhangekar will win the seat as people of the constituency are with the MVA candidate,” Mr Joshi added.
Responding to the charges, BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhye said that since the MVA is facing a defeat, it is levelling frivolous accusations.
Considering the voting percentage registered in both the constituencies, the BJP candidates will win the Kasba as well as Chinchwad bypolls, he said.
Ailing Lok Sabha member Girish Bapat cast his vote in Kasba Peth. With his nasal cannula on, he came to the polling station at Ahilyabai Highschool in a car to exercise his franchise. He was then taken inside the polling booth in a wheelchair. Before winning the Lok Sabha election in 2019, Mr Bapat had represented this Assembly segment located in the heart of Pune five times.
Meanwhile, a non-cognisable offence was registered against former BJP corporator Ganesh Bidkar and three others at Samarth police station under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), an official said.
“A complainant suspected that money was being distributed (to voters) in a building near Pune Station. When he went there, he got into a spat with Bidkar,” said a police officer from Samarth police station.
He added that the complainant, Fayyaz Shaikh, alleged that he was assaulted there by four people.
There was a “minor clash” between supporters of Shiv Sena (UBT) rebel candidate Rahul Kalate and the BJP outside a polling station in Chinchwad and police intervened to bring the situation under control, Pimpri Chinchwad’s Deputy Commissioner of Police Kakasaheb Dole said.
There were 510 polling centres and 5,68,954 registered voters in Chinchwad and 215 polling centres and 2,75,428 registered voters in Kasba constituency.
With Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena and the BJP coming to power after the collapse of the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government in June last year, the bypolls in Chinchwad and Kasba seats became a prestige issue for both the sides.
“Whatever is the result of these two bypolls, it is not going to affect the stability of the present government, but the bypolls are very important politically for the ruling Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena and the BJP, as well as the MVA,” political analyst Abhay Deshpande told PTI.
He said the MVA got success in the recently held state Legislative Council elections and if it achieves a similar success in these bypolls, it will get a big push.
“If the BJP wins both the seats, it will be a shot in the arm for it and a setback for the MVA,” he added.
Mr Deshpande claimed the traditional Congress-NCP votes are getting transferred to the Shiv Sena (UBT) because they are taking on the BJP.
“But it has not been proven whether the traditional Shiv Sena votes are getting transferred to the NCP and Congress. Though the right-winger voters seem to be with Thackeray even after the split, these byelections will prove as a litmus test whether those voters will vote for the NCP and Congress,” he opined.
As the two bypolls have become an issue of prestige for the MVA as well as the ruling BJP-Shinde’s Shiv Sena, big leaders like NCP president Sharad Pawar, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis campaigned for their respective candidates, he said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)