Maharashtra State Assembly Elections – Pune Shivajinagar Seat Contestants

No Indian has anywhere near as much scope to change the destiny of other Indians as an elected representative in government. So like it or hate it, we have to take our netas and elections seriously. The assembly elections (Vidhan Sabha) for the state of Maharashtra in India are upon us and 13th Oct 09 is voting day. My vote lies in the Shivajinagar constituency in Pune. So here’s my analysis of the top 3 contenders for the ShivajiNagar seat in Pune city. I do not think I have any deep rooted party loyalties and my choice of party in past elections has varied based on the quality of the candidate. I am attempting to provide my analysis of the candidates & not their parties. Also I do not claim to be unbiased, so please apply your judgement.

Vinayak Nimhan (Congress + NCP)

He has twice been elected as MLA from Shivajinagar and would complete a hat-trick if he wins again this time. However both his past wins were as a candidate for the Shiv Sena – BJP alliance.

congress-hand

However Mr. Nihman’s conduct during his last term as an MLA has been rather disappointing. He openly supported and announced his allegiance to Narayan Rane when Mr. Rane quit the Shiv Sena & went over to the Congress some four years back. However Mr. Nimhan then did not vacate the Vidhan Sabha seat that he had won on a ShivSena + BJP ticket. From a layman’s perspective, the only reason I can see why he continued as an MLA was to continue enjoying the benefits of the office. I would think that the honorable thing to do, was to vacate his seat and contest a by-election on a Congress ticket.

So for several years, he has been officially ShivSena but unofficially Congress. So I guess neither party would be considering him as their own.

I can understand that politicians have to switch parties due to ideological differences or even ego clashes. I don’t think that changing parties is fundamentally wrong. However if someone does quit a party, I believe they should also have the gumption to quit all positions & luxuries that were courtesy of their past party. You can’t work for party X & continue to enjoy a seat of power that you won on a party Y ticket. I don’t buy the argument that Mr. Nimhan won the last 2 elections because of his work and not because he was contesting on a Sena BJP ticket.

Some might say that honour & ethics are not relevant in today’s politics; I don’t agree.

As for development work, apart from some instances where I read about Mr. Nimhan questioning the Pune Corporation on the TDR scam, I am not well informed on his development activities in the Shivaji Nagar area; or the questions & issues he raised in the state assembly. So I will reserve comment on that. Unfortunately Mr. Nimhan does not have a website or any other online source that lists his development work.

The important factor that however works for Mr. Nimhan, is his rich experience of 10 years in office. This will be his third term as an MLA and if Congress+NCP come to power, he is very likely to get a ministerial berth. A minister from ShivajiNagar should be well equipped to get more done.

ranjit-shiroleRanjit Shirole (MNS)

He  contested the Pune Loksabha seat on a Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) ticket and had polled an impressive 75000+ votes. He benefits from the fact that he is new to politics and so has a clean sheet. No baggage of the past to carry but only promises of the future to make. He is a young leader from a party primarily driven by angry young Marathi voters, a party that people either love or hate. While Raj Thackeray does come across as a fiery and articulate neta that has mass connect, most of the cadres & MNS candidates have been by & large disappointing in the sense that they looked & acted like goons.

Whether the MNS’ Marathi – Anti UP Bihar agenda makes any sense is a different discussion I will not get into here. However with the MNS the quality of the candidates has often been an issue. Thankfully, Ranjit Shirole looks like an exception. He is young, educated & has the look & feel of someone who could easily pass of as a software developer in an Infosys or the likes. He comes from a rich, politically entrenched family, which is both a plus & a minus based on one’s perspective. He had recently contested the LokSabha elections and had to the surprise of most picked up over 75000 votes. So he has support on the ground and his recent Lok Sabha campaign experience I guess would stand him in good stead for the state assembly election campaign. Where he lacks, is with political & administrative inexperience. The Lok Sabha 09 election I believe was his first election ever. So if someone is comfortable with the MNS & Raj Thackeray, Ranjit Shirole could be a possible choice.

Ranjit Shirole had a decent website when I had checked it out during the LokSabha election. Unfortunately it looks like http://www.ranjitshirole.com is currently down. However I tried a Google search and found that his Loksabha site is still hidden away underneath at http://ranjitshirole.com/english/index.html & http://ranjitshirole.com/marathi/index.html. The content is outdated but you will find info about the man.

vikas-mathkariVikas Mathkari (BJP + Shiv Sena)

He is the currently a corporator from my ward (Law College Ward) in the Pune Municipal Corporation. He is fairly young & being a professor at a commerce college, I guess he would have some connect with the youth. He has been a corporator in the Pune Municipal Corporation for several years. For a couple of those years he was also the leader of opposition in the PMC. Vikas Mathkari has a functional website at http://www.vikasmathkari.com/ and Mr. Mathkari’s videos on Youtube are a good way to get a feel of the man.

I have interacted with him a couple of times over the past few years with regards to an environmental NGO I am associated with. He comes across as a ‘politician’ tuned into the  kind of work that will get him good reviews from the electorate. He also seemed well informed about how govt. red tape & bureaucracy function and how development work can be done through this system. His views seemed pragmatic rather than idealistic.

Conclusion

So who do I think will win? I think it will go down to the wire between Nimhan, Mathkari & Shirole. Mathkari & Nimhan look like the top contenders & Shirole like with the LokSabha elections will again take a big chunk of votes.

The battle between Nimhan & Mathkari is already getting very bitter, with Mathkari accusing Nimhan of being a traitor and of Nimhan’s men threatening Mathkari supporters. Nimhan has also filed a counter charge. An ad from Mr. Nimhan published in today’s Sakal (Marathi) (9th Oct) mocks Mathkari for being a professor, this I thought was in poor taste but just highlights the ongoing bitter battle for Pune Shivajinagar Vidhan Sabha seat.

Intend to next write a comparison of the top parties in the state elections. Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena, BJP & the MNS.

  • Pavan Iyengars

    None of these Jokers are worthy of our votes!

    So the only real option we had is NOTA, which I did exercise.

    But the real problem is why are parties like PPI, Loksatta not contesting elections from Pune?

    Isn’t there one Puneri who wants to stand for elections the next time around?
    One situation where puneris will vote is when an activist stands up now and displays publically his will to vote in the next elections.

  • Pavan Iyengars

    None of these Jokers are worthy of our votes!

    So the only real option we had is NOTA, which I did exercise.

    But the real problem is why are parties like PPI, Loksatta not contesting elections from Pune?

    Isn’t there one Puneri who wants to stand for elections the next time around?
    One situation where puneris will vote is when an activist stands up now and displays publically his will to vote in the next elections.

  • Pavan Iyengars

    correction, “contest ” and not vote

  • Pavan Iyengars

    correction, “contest ” and not vote