Girish Bapat, 69, a veteran Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker and a member of legislative assembly (MLA) of five terms will be contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as the Pune’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate. Polling in the city is scheduled on April 23.
Bapat was chosen over sitting member of Parliament (MP) Anil Shirole, who accepted the party’s decision gracefully on Saturday.
A Konkanastha Brahmin, Bapat is a strong contender in the battle against the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance, with strong chances that he will battle against senior city Congressman Arvind Shinde, a Maratha.
Hailing from the Amravati district, Bapat began his career in 1973 with Tata Motors (then known as Telco) and simultaneously undertook activities of the RSS, which landed him in jail during the Emergency in 1976.
A soft-spoken Kasba Peth legislator, he later contested his first election as a corporator in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) during 1983 and eventually climbed the political ladder until he became a minister in the Maharashtra government cabinet in 2014.
Besides multiple portfolios, including food and civil supplies and consumer protection, Bapat is also Pune’s district guardian minister. “The BJP has shown trust in me by giving me the Lok Sabha ticket. It will be my 10th election and I am confident to win this time,” said Bapat, who had unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha polls in 1996 and tasted defeat from Congress’ Suresh Kalmadi.
Essentially an urban constituency with a mix of cosmopolitan and local population spread over six assembly segments that are part of the Pune Lok Sabha seat, the party hopes that Bapat’s face will go well with the constituency’s profile.
In a previous interview, Bapat had said that he had started his career from the local level and was now keen to work in Delhi.
Mar 24, 2021 01:33 IST