Pune, Jan 19: Congress leaders and workers in Pune today celebrated the release of party MP Suresh Kalmadi on bail.
Kalmadi's release after nine months of incarceration has given hope to party workers who were down and out. But BJP and NCP leaders said, Kalmadi's return will not affect the results of Pune municipal corportion polls next month.
"Kalmadi has only got bail, not acquittal", said NCP leaders here.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leaders said in private that since Kalmadi has been suspended from the party, it's the party high command which will decide whether he will be allowed to campaign in the Pune polls or not.
Kalmadi had been lording it over Pune Congress for the last several years.
With Kalmadi in Tihar jail, the NCP had grown stronger in the city, with deputy chief minsiter and Sharad Pawar's nephew Ajit Pawar tightening his grip over city politics in the last nine months. Ajit Pawar is a known Kalmadi baiter.
There was no leader worth the stature to counter Ajit Pawar, but Kalmadi's return could change equations.
Hundreds of Congress workers converged at the party office here on hearing news about Kalmadi's bail and chanted slogans.
State Forest Minister and Congress leader Patangrao Kadam said, we are happy Kalmadi has been released on bail, but whether he would campaign for the party or not, is for the High Command to decide.
The High Command, on its part, is caught in a cleft. If it allows Kalmadi to return to the party and campaign, it may face flak at the Centre, and if it disallows, the local party unit will be facing the voters' ire.