After facing opposition initially for being declared the party candidate from the Kothrud assembly seat, state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil on Monday preferred to spend most of the day in the constituency to keep a close watch on polling and left for Kolhapur to cast his vote in the afternoon.
Patil, who is the state revenue minister, is a native of Kolhapur. He was born and brought up in Mumbai.
The BJP had declared his candidature from Kothrud saying it was one of the safest seats for the party as Patil is contesting his first assembly election. Till now, he was an elected representative from the state legislative council.
Patil started visiting polling booths from 8 am and continued to do so till 3 pm. “The state BJP chief was personally monitoring the election process and meeting party agents outside the booths. He had started meeting the booth agents in Kothrud from Sunday. Patil covered most of the polling booths,” a BJP leader said.
Patil rushed to Kolhapur in the afternoon to vote before 6 pm. The BJP leader is registered as a voter in Kolhapur. The state BJP chief claimed that he would win by a margin of 1.6 lakh votes while his party would win 220 to 250 seats. “The BJP will retain all eight assembly seats in the city. There is no impact of the allegations made by the opposition and the BJP-Shiv Sena-led alliance is all set to retain power in the state,” Patil said.
Earlier, the declaration of his candidature from Kothrud had led to dissent within the BJP with sitting legislator Medha Kulkarni rushing to the state party headquarters to seek clarification for being denied ticket to re-contest. There was also opposition from the Akhil Bharatiya Brahmin Mahasangh as they had protested a “non-Brahmin” contesting from Brahmin-dominated Kothrud and had fielded its candidate but withdrew it in the last minute after a request from Patil.
The opposition took advantage of the situation and decided to come together to give a tough fight to Patil. The NCP and Congress extended their support to MNS candidate Kishore Shinde. MNS chief Raj Thackeray had appealed to voters to decide whether they wanted a local or a leader from another city to represent them in the assembly.
Patil had to put in a lot of time and energy to pacify those opposing him. He was among the star campaigners of the party. The state BJP chief personally monitored his election campaign in Kothrud and ensured that all local leaders of the party as well as that of Shiv Sena actively campaigned for him.