The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is facing a problem of plenty in choosing its nominee for the Pune graduates' constituency with a number of heavyweights in the fray. The seat is a prestigious one for the BJP, as it was represented in the Maharashtra legislative council by party state unit chief Chandrakantdada Patil for two successive terms.
The Pune graduates' constituency spans the districts of Pune, Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur and Solapur, with registered voters in the area, who hold University degrees, being eligible to exercise their franchise. The seat was represented by Patil, who is now a legislator from Kothrud in Pune, for two successive terms. It has been represented twice in the past (1990-2002) by the BJP’s Prakash Javadekar, who is now a union minister. Javadekar has been defeated in 2002 by Sharad Patil of the Janata Dal (Secular).
A senior BJP leader said a number of names, including that of Rohan Deshmukh, the son of former minister Subhash Deshmukh, former minister Harshavardhan Patil and Shekhar Charegaonkar, were in the contention. “However, there seems to no unanimity in the state leadership over the choice of candidate. While Patil is said to be eager to get his aide Shekhar Charegaonkar nominated, a camp loyal to former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is pitching for either Deshmukh or Patil,” he claimed.
The BJP leader said while the name of former Kothrud MLA Medha Kulkarni, who had vacated her seat for Patil, was also doing the rounds, the party was likely to choose a candidate from the Maratha community instead of a Brahmin. He admitted that any delays in finalising the candidate or infighting could cost the party this prestigious seat.
In 2014, Patil had defeated Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) nominee Sarang Patil, the son of incumbent Satara MP Srinivas Patil, and NCP rebel Arun Lad for his second six-year term. However, he had secured a margin of just around 2,500 votes.
Maharashtra has a total number of seven constituencies for graduates (Pune, Mumbai, Aurangabad, Nashik, Nagpur, Amravati and Konkan), with the same seats covering the teachers' constituencies of an equal number.