Shirur Lok Sabha seat will return to Shiv Sena in 2024, says Sanjay Raut



Ajit Pawar dismisses it as ‘pep talk’; the crucial seat in Pune district is currently held by NCP’s Amol Kolhe 

Ajit Pawar dismisses it as ‘pep talk’; the crucial seat in Pune district is currently held by NCP’s Amol Kolhe 

After Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut’s statement that the Shirur Lok Sabha seat in Pune district would be back in the Sena’s kitty in the 2024 parliamentary election raised eyebrows, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar dismissed Mr. Raut’s comments as mere ‘pep talk’, calculated to enthuse his partymen.

Mr. Raut, who has been actively campaigning to expand the Sena’s presence outside Mumbai and the Konkan, recently said that former Sena MP of Shirur Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil would be back in the Lok Sabha after the 2024 General Elections.

The Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray, along with Sharad Pawar’s NCP and the Congress share power in the State in the form of the ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ coalition.

The Shirur seat is currently held by NCP’s Amol Kolhe, who, in a major upset win, had supplanted Mr. Adhalrao-Patil in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. At the time, the Sena had fought along with the BJP against the NCP. The Shiv Sena later severed its ties with the BJP to ally with the ideologically opposed NCP and the Congress after the 2019 State Assembly election after the two long-standing saffron allies bickered over the Chief Minister’s post.  

Development works

“I say with full confidence that Mr. Adhalrao-Patil will return in 2024… We both will be sitting together in the Lok Sabha. He [Adhalrao-Patil] has done a number of important development works not only in his constituency but throughout Pune district. The Shiv Sena and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray are firmly behind him,” Mr. Raut said.

Responding to the Sena leader’s remarks, Mr. Ajit Pawar, who is also Pune’s Guardian Minister, said that Mr. Raut may have said such things to make his partymen feel better.

“It is but natural to say such things…even when I visit a constituency held by some other party leader, I always say that an NCP candidate will win the next election. However, it must be remembered that Sanjay Raut does not decide whom to give the ticket… That decision is made by Uddhav Thackeray,” said Mr. Pawar.

A former three-time MP, Mr. Shivajirao Adhalrao-Patil had virtually no strong political facing him in the Shirur Lok Sabha constituency for over a decade until the NCP, in a canny move, had fielded Mr. Kolhe – an ex-Sena man and a Marathi television actor.

Mr. Raut’s ‘show of strength’ remarks are the latest in a line of similar statements made by top MVA leadership, including Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, reflecting both the unease within the ideologically opposed Sena-NCP-Congress alliance as well as the individual party building drive ahead of polls – be it local body, or State and national-level ones.  

2017 civic polls

In a visit to Pimpri-Chinchwad in September last year, Mr. Raut had urged his party workers to acknowledge the fact that the Sena was routed in the 2017 civic polls owing to weaknesses within the party’s organisation in Pune and exhorted them to introspect as to why the party’s outreach is so poor in the district.

He had even said that the Sena would go it alone in the crucial 2022 civic body polls in Maharashtra unless a “respectable seat-sharing arrangement” was reached among the three parties of the ruling MVA government. 

Following the creation of the unlikely MVA coalition, each party has been seeking to expand their respective party bases, with Ajit Pawar leaving no stone unturned to bring Pune district under the NCP’s sway.

Pune, and particularly Pimpri-Chinchwad, has long been Mr. Pawar’s bastion which was stormed by the BJP during the 2017 civic polls.


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