Why Kothrud Is Pune's New Kasba Peth

Why Kothrud Is Pune's New Kasba Peth

According to political analysts, the illness of Girish Bapat led the BJP to shift its power centre in Pune from Kasba Peth to Kothrud

Staff ReporterUpdated: Tuesday, June 11, 2024, 01:43 PM IST
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Murlidhar Mohol and Medha Kulkarni |

The oldest part of Pune, Kasba Peth stands as a testament to centuries of history, heritage, culture and faith. Nestled along the banks of the Mutha river and the Nagzari stream, this locality has witnessed the rule of various dynasties, from the Yadavas to the Peshwas. Before its amalgamation, Kasba Peth was comprised of small hamlets, a legacy that persists even today with areas named Tambat Ali (known for brass/copper utensil manufacturers), Kumbhar Wada (home to earthen pot makers), Shimpi Ali (the area of tailors), and many other such areas. In post-independence politics too, Kasba Peth has long been considered as the power centre, with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders like Girish Bapat representing the area.

However, now, the power centre has shifted from the central part of the city to the outskirts of Kothrud. The migration of residents living in the Peth areas to Kothrud due to rapid commercialisation and increased population density is one of the reasons. But the major reason is political. The newly appointed Minister of State (MoS) for Civil Aviation and Cooperation Murlidhar Mohol is from Kothrud. Rajya Sabha MP Medha Kulkarni is also from the area, while Maharashtra Higher and Technical Education Chandrakant Patil, who is originally from Kolhapur, represents the Kothrud Assembly seat.

The seeds of shifting political power centre were sown after Patil was given a ticket from the Kothrud Assembly in place of then-sitting MLA Kulkarni in 2019. After winning, Patil was made Pune district's Guardian Minister. This post was held by Bapat earlier. However, he moved to the Centre by bagging the Pune Lok Sabha seat. Currently, the post is with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Ajit Pawar after his faction joined the BJP-Eknath Shinde's Shiv Sena group alliance.

According to political analysts, the illness of Bapat led the BJP to shift its power centre in Pune from Kasba Peth to Kothrud. Later, the BJP failed to retain the Kasba Assembly seat in the bypoll, which was necessitated after the death of sitting BJP MLA Mukta Tilak. Congress leader Ravindra Dhangekar pulled off a thumping win over BJP's Hemant Rasane by over 11,000 votes.

Meanwhile, the death of Bapat, who was a sitting BJP MP, created a void in the Kasba Peth area. The ruling party allegedly avoided taking the risk and influenced the Election Commission of India (ECI) to not hold a bypoll for the Pune Lok Sabha seat, despite more than a year remaining before the end of the five-year term. The Bombay High Court later pulled up the ECI for the same.

Analysts also pointed out that the BJP's traditional voters had moved to Kothrud, and according to them, this was the reason why they lost in the Kasba bypoll and shifted their base to Kothrud.

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