Parties sound poll bugle in Pune

With eyes set on the general polls, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Pune, is now scouting for candidates for four Lok Sabha seats in the district.

While names of former bureaucrat Arun Bhatia and senior socialist leader Subhas Ware are doing the rounds as possible candidates for Pune Lok Sabha seat, party insiders say farmers' rights activist Ulka Mahajan is being considered for the Maval seat.

The recently held national executive of the party had decided to contest around 300 seats in the general elections. Maharashtra has been identified by AAP as an important state where they wish to fight almost all seats.

Senior party leaders such as Anjali Damania and Vijay Pandhare have been touring the state to increase membership drives and form state-level committees. In Pune, the party has managed to form committees in 17 of the 21 Assembly constituencies and has more than 15,000 members now. Talks are now on to ask Mahajan to join the party.

Confirming the move, state convenor Damania said district convenor Maruti Bhapkar and other leaders have requested Mahajan to join the party along with fellow activists. "Mahajan has been involved in people's movement for many years and has led the agitation against land acquisition in Maval area for SEZ and industrial purposes. We have requested her to consider joining us," she said.

Sources in the party said Mahajan has for years lead the agitation in Karla, Raigad, Uran and other areas and has a good mass base. Mahajan, on her part, appeared non-committal about her decision. "Yes, they have approached me for joining the party but I am yet to make a decision. I have to consult my organisation and would take a call," she said.

Bhatia and Ware also in the race

For Pune seat, the names of former bureaucrat Arun Bhatia and party leader Subhash Ware are doing the rounds. Ware is also a member of the national executive of the AAP. Damania said many in the Pune unit of the party want Ware to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, but Ware has not made up his mind. "Bhatia had written to us expressing his desire to fight the Lok Sabha polls on an AAP ticket and we have requested him to fill up the form online. In our party, due procedure has to be followed by all candidates," she said. "The final decision about the Pune seat would be taken within the next few weeks."

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