CONFIRMED! BJP's Murlidhar Mohol To Lock Horns With Congress' Ravindra Dhangekar For Pune Lok Sabha Seat

CONFIRMED! BJP's Murlidhar Mohol To Lock Horns With Congress' Ravindra Dhangekar For Pune Lok Sabha Seat

In the 2019 elections, the late Girish Bapat of the BJP emerged victorious, defeating Congress' Mohan Joshi

Aakash SinghUpdated: Thursday, March 21, 2024, 09:55 PM IST
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CONFIRMED! BJP's Murlidhar Mohol To Lock Horns With Congress' Ravindra Dhangekar For Pune Lok Sabha Seat |

Ending speculation, the Congress announced on Thursday evening that Kasba Peth MLA Ravindra Dhangekar would be its candidate for the Pune Lok Sabha seat. He will be facing off against former Pune mayor and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Murlidhar Mohol.

Who is Ravindra Dhangekar?

A former member of the Shiv Sena, Ravindra Dhangekar entered politics inspired by the speeches of Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray. He was a Raj Thackeray loyalist and later joined him in the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). Dhangekar contested civic elections for the first time in 1997 and emerged victorious. Subsequently, he served as a corporator five times until 2022.

As an MNS candidate, Dhangekar made significant strides in Kasba Peth during the 2009 Assembly elections, where he gave tough competition to the then-incumbent legislator, Girish Bapat of the BJP, losing by just over 8,000 votes. Despite facing defeat, Dhangekar contested against Bapat once again in the 2014 Assembly polls, albeit succumbing to the Modi wave.

In 2017, feeling marginalised within the MNS, Dhangekar switched allegiance to the Congress after his attempts to join the BJP were unsuccessful. That year, he contested as an Independent in the Pune civic polls with Congress support, defeating BJP heavyweight Ganesh Bidkar.

Dhangekar gained prominence in 2022 when he achieved an unexpected victory in the Kasba Peth bypolls, a stronghold of the BJP.

Who is Murlidhar Mohol?

Murlidhar Mohol was selected by the BJP over other contenders such as the party’s former city unit chief Jagdish Mulik and RSS functionary Sunil Deodhar.

At 50 years old, Mohol represents a Maratha face for the BJP. A former city mayor, he has served as a corporator in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) four times.

Hailing from Mulshi, Mohol’s father migrated to the city with his family in search of job opportunities and education for his children.

Mohol, a graduate, also practiced wrestling in Pune and Kolhapur. At the age of 12, he attended shakhas organized by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). By 1996, he entered the political arena and became the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha chief for Pune.

In 2002, Mohol contested PMC elections and became a corporator for the first time. His proximity to the late BJP leader Gopinath Munde helped him secure a nomination from Kothrud. Currently, he is known to have close ties with Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

What do the numbers say?

The Pune Lok Sabha constituency encompasses six Assembly segments. These include Vadgaon Sheri, represented by NCP (AP)'s Sunil Tingre, Shivajinagar, held by BJP's Siddharth Shirole, Kothrud, with Chandrakant Patil from BJP serving as the MLA, Parvati, represented by BJP's Madhuri Misal, Pune Cantonment, where BJP's Sunil Kamble holds office, and Kasba Peth, represented by Dhangekar himself.

In the 2019 elections, the late Girish Bapat of the BJP emerged victorious, defeating Congress' Mohan Joshi. This victory underscored the BJP's growing influence in Pune, despite historical leanings towards the Congress. Over time, the BJP has steadily expanded its vote share, indicating an increasing appeal among Pune's electorate.

In contrast, Congress has encountered difficulties maintaining its electoral foothold, with its vote share experiencing fluctuations. Despite concerted efforts, Congress has struggled to match the BJP's ascending dominance in Pune.

Overall, while both parties wield significant influence in various segments of the Pune Lok Sabha constituency, the BJP currently holds the advantage, as demonstrated by its recent electoral triumphs and rising popularity among voters.

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