Shirur Lok Sabha Elections: Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil To Join Ajit Pawar-Led NCP Tomorrow, Faceoff Against Amol Kolhe

Shirur Lok Sabha Elections: Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil To Join Ajit Pawar-Led NCP Tomorrow, Faceoff Against Amol Kolhe

In an interview with IANS, Shivajirao Adhalrao claims he does not see the forthcoming contest as a challenge but as an opportunity to win with a big margin

IANSUpdated: Tuesday, March 26, 2024, 04:15 PM IST
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Shirur Lok Sabha Elections: Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil To Join Ajit Pawar-Led NCP Tomorrow, Faceoff Against Amol Kolhe | File Photo

Three-time Shiv Sena MP Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil will formally join the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar tomorrow.

Adhalrao will contest the Lok Sabha elections as the NCP nominee from the Shirur constituency in Pune district against NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar) candidate and sitting MP Amol Kolhe.

Adhalrao's move to join the NCP has been cleared by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. Adhalrao left the NCP in 2004 and joined the Shiv Sena. In 2004, he emerged victorious from Khed. However, following the delimitation in 2008, Shirur was established as a separate constituency. In the 2009 Lok Sabha election, Adhalrao Patil secured his second victory, defeating NCP's Vilas Lande by nearly 1.8 lakh votes. In the 2014 election, he defeated Devdatta Nikam of NCP by a margin of over three lakh votes. In the 2019 elections, Kolhe, a popular Marathi actor renowned for his portrayals of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj in movies and television serials, defeated Adhalrao by over 58,000 votes. After the Shiv Sena broke off in 2022, he remained with Uddhav Thackeray for a while before migrating to the Shinde faction of the party.

In an interview with IANS, Adhalrao claims he does not see the forthcoming contest as a challenge but as an opportunity to win with a big margin.

What are the challenges for you in fighting the election now?

I see this as an opportunity. Everyone knows the reasons behind my defeat in the 2019 elections. However, wherever I go, the people start by saying that they committed a major mistake in the last elections. They promise not to make the same mistake again but cast their vote in favour of me. I am contesting this election for victory. I know the past mistakes and also what needs to be done for victory. The situation is quite favourable for my victory with a big margin.

The elections are taking place amid the Maratha-OBC quota row. Will it not impact your poll prospects?

I do not see there will be any impact on my poll prospects. I never indulge in any controversy but prefer to remain with the people. I sincerely feel that people are wise and they will make a proper decision.

What are your priorities for the Shirur constituency?

My priority as MP will be the completion of the Pune-Nashik high-speed railway. I struggled for the development of this ambitious project in my 15-year tenure. The state government has tried to give a push with the allocation of funds but there has been no substantial progress in the last five years. It is a challenging project for western Maharashtra, especially for the transformation of Pune, Nashik, and Ahmednagar districts. My other priorities include the completion of other roads, the reduction in traffic jams in the Chakan industrial area, Pune-Ahmednagar road, and also in Talegaon-Chakan-Shikrapur area. I will focus on getting permanent jobs for educated youth in Chakan and Ranjangaon industrial estates. I will hold talks with the state and central government and also with the industries so that youth get permanent jobs.

Why did you decide to again plunge into the electoral fray from the Ajit Pawar faction while quitting the Shinde faction?

Actually, while working for the last five years (after losing the Lok Sabha elections in 2019), I had not thought of contesting the election again to become an MP. I worked religiously during my three terms for the people of the Shirur constituency and its overall development. I built up a great connection with the voters. However, after the defeat, I did not feel like leaving my political and social life. Therefore, I decided to continue my association with the people without thinking that I would get a ticket or become an MP in the future. I wanted to maintain my relations with the people and therefore, continued my visits across the constituency in the last five years without having any support. I spent from my pocket and through my organisations to help people, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

Incidentally, Eknath Shinde became the Chief Minister in June 2022, and I saw in him a leader who always helps his colleagues and the people at large. In the last 18 months, he gave me enough strength, and because of that, I could complete a lot of work which I could not do in 15 years of tenure as MP. The CM gave me posts, and respect in the organisational works and also in the administrative works. Since day one he had told me to prepare to fight the Lok Sabha elections in 2024. His message was to be ready for a fight and accordingly, I worked in the constituency. I got a signal in the last eight to nine months that the Shirur seat would go to the NCP and later, I came in contact with Ajit Pawar and Dilip Walse-Patil. When it was decided that sitting MP Amol Kolhe would contest the poll, I realised that there was space for me and thereafter I decided to join NCP.

Critics have criticised you for changing the parties merely to become MP. How do you react?

There is no truth in the criticism that I have decided to join the NCP only to become an MP. About two and a half years ago, then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray told me that Shirur is in the NCP quota and the Shiv Sena will not stake its claim. Thackeray and Sanjay Raut had asked me to focus on Pune and not on Shirur. However, I had categorically told Thackeray there was no point having a tussle over the Shirur seat with the NCP and on the Pune seat with the Congress. I requested him to give strength to help the party's cadre. Therefore, it was wrong to say that I was insisting on Shirur to become MP again. I must say that I represented the Shirur constituency for 15 years and that too becoming a three-term MP in Pune district, which has been Sharad Pawar's home district, has been my achievement.

After almost 20 years there will be a reunion between you and Dilip Walse-Patil. What is your comment?

For 20 years, Walse-Patil and I were with different parties. However, I always felt that we must come together again. Both never opposed each other or hurled criticism at each other. Incidentally, there is now an opportunity for us to come together again. We will work for the betterment of the people and to develop the Shirur constituency on a fast track with a new resolve and determination.

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