To fill Kalmadi vacuum, many Congress leaders enter the ring


Several aspirants for the Congress ticket for 2014

Lok Sabha polls

With the distance between sitting Pune city MP Suresh Kalmadi and a Congress ticket for the next Lok Sabha elections seeming to have further increased, many aspirants are claiming the party ticket for the 2014 polls. Leading from the front in the endeavour are Vishwajeet Kadam, Mohan Joshi, Sharad Ranpise, Anant Gadgil and Deepak Mankar.

The Congress had to suspend Kalmadi after his arrest over allegations of corruption in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. The sitting MP has been facing criticism ever since. Media reports last week said a chargesheet was going to be filed against him in a Delhi court shortly and this has made many in the party in Pune eager to contest on a Congress ticket from the city.

There has been a noticeable increase in aspirants for the Congress ticket.

The name of Youth Congress state chief Vishwajeet Kadam, who is son of senior Congress leader Patangrao Kadam, is making the rounds due to his proximity to Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, who has been looking at selecting youth with leadership qualities.

As part of Rahul Gandhi's plan, party observer Kewal Singh Dhillon had visited the city recently to take stock of the party position and look for probables. Many aspirants staked claim to the ticket and there were efforts from a pro-Kalmadi faction in the party also to put forth his name.

"We have grown in politics with the help of Kalmadi and have not forgotten the growth of the party under his leadership. Thus, we put his name before the observers," said a Congress corporator close to Kalmadi.

Kalmadi also reportedly called up all the Congress corporators and office-bearers to put forth his name for the party ticket. However, those against Kalmadi were in their elements and were well-prepared to put forth names of a leader of their choice.

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