Mumbai: With the CBI closing in on Suresh Kalmadi in the Commonwealth Games scam, Congressmen in Pune are wary of the political fallout of the party losing ground
especially with elections to the municipal corporation scheduled in early 2012.
Kalmadi has been representing the Pune Lok Sabha seat for the last two terms and the party leadership had given him a free hand in running the affairs of the organisation in the
city much against the wishes of the local Congressmen.
MPCC spokesman Anant Gadgil told a news agency that former chief minister and Congress leader late YB Chavan had referred to Pune as the epicentre of Maharashtra politics.
"He would say that if anything goes wrong in Pune, the repercussions would be felt in the entire state," Gadgil said.
He pointed out that till his father and Lok Sabha member from Pune VN Gadgil, NCP had eight corporators in the 148 member civic body.
"Today, they are 45 in number and for the last six years having their own elected mayor. Whereas the Congress tally has come down from over 100 to 23," he said.
Party sources said if the Congress did not take corrective measures to strengthen the party in Pune, NCP and MNS may consolidate their position in the city.
"MNS candidate polled 90,000 votes in Pune Lok Sabha seat last year due to which Kalmadi was saved," sources said.
In the Assembly elections, 5th generation scion of the Lokmanya Tilak family Rohit Tilak finished third from the Kasba Peth Assembly segment behind MNS candidate in which BJP`s Girish Bapat had retained the seat.
"Congress has weakened in Pune over the last few years. There is no alternate leadership and a vacuum has been created," sources said.
MPCC president Manikrao Thakre was in Pune two days ago and while addressing a meeting of party workers, he praised Kalmadi and said that the party will contest the civic
polls under his leadership, sources said.
According to them, this has lead to severe resentment among the grass root cadre who believe that because of Kalmadi, the party`s and the government`s image had taken a beating.
"Delay in action against Kalmadi has caused suspicion in the minds of the people about the Congress party," source added.
However, Thakre refused to comment on the issue saying that it concerns an individual and that investigations into the scam are on and the Congress has nothing to do with it.