The passing away of senior BJP leader and Pune Lok Sabha MP Girish Bapat on Wednesday, has created a major jolt to the party, as it lost a third elected representative within a span of four months
Earlier, the BJP lost two influential leaders, then legislator from Kasba Peth Mukta Tilak and its sitting MLA from Chinchwad Laxman Jagtap in December 2022 and January this year, respectively.
Incidentally, prior to contesting Lok Sabha elections from Pune, Bapat had vacated the Kasba Peth for Tilak, who pre-deceased him. All the three sitting elected members lost their lives due to various ailments, a message and warning to political leaders to take care of their health.
Bapat along with Tilak, and Jagtap played important role for the party in their respective segments.
After Tilak and Jagtap’s loss, the by-election was held for Kasba Peth and Chinchwad assembly constituencies. The BJP was able to retain Chinchwad seat although despite being good hold on Kasba Assembly, BJP lost the battle in its bastion of over three decades. In Kasba Peth, Maha Vikas Aghadi’s (MVA) Ravindra Dhangekar defeated BJP candidate Hemant Rasane from.
In fact, such was Bapat’s hold over the Kasba Peth segment that his absence in the campaign during the bypoll last month severely hurt the BJP’s chances and resulted in the Congress candidate’s wresting the seat from the BJP after nearly 30 years.
“Bapat’s demise is an irreparable loss for all of us. He worked hard for the party in Pune and bolstered BJP’s chances in various elections,” said Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said, Girish Bapat continued to energise his party even while struggling with terminal illness. “Whenever I used to meet him, I was amazed at his knowledge about various subjects and not just politics. As an MLA, MP and minister in the state cabinet, he always took the initiative to solve problems of common people. As guardian minister, he had taken firm steps for the development of Pune. He always had excellent relations with not just people within his party but with those from other parties as well. The state has lost a friendly and kind-hearted leader,” Shinde said.
After Bapat’s death, political discussions began for yet another round of bypolls, this time for Pune Lok Sabha seat. BJP leaders said that since one year is remained for Lok Sabha polls, election commission might announce by-election for Pune Lok Sabha soon.