Pune: Notwithstanding the criminal charges and his suspension from Congress, supporters of city MP Suresh Kalmadi gave him an enthusiastic welcome when he arrived here this evening for the first time after being released on bail in the Commonwealth Games scam.

His arrival coincided with the last day of withdrawal of nominations for the civic elections, in which he could have played a major role for Congress with the clout he had within the party's city unit, but for the taint of CWG corruption allegations.

Maharashtra Congress chief, Manikrao Thakre, has however made it clear that the suspended leader would not be participating in the Congress campaign.

Kalmadi's supporters greeted him with slogans such as `Sabse bada khiladi, Suresh Kalmadi', as he travelled some distance in an open car from the airport, waving at the party workers. He later visited the government-run Sassoon Hospital to inquire after the injured victims of last month's ST driver-goes-berserk tragedy.

Pune BJP chief Vikas Matkari condemned the welcome accorded to Kalmadi, saying that it was against the "culture of the city" to greet a person facing serious charges of corruption.

NCP spokesman Ankush Kakde said Kalmadi's arrival would not impact the outcome of civic polls, and the people would take "right" decision while casting the vote.

Meanwhile, NCP president Sharad Pawar on Saturday urged the voters here to give a clear majority to his party in the Pune Municipal Corporation for a fast development of the city. At present, NCP-Congress alliance is ruling the civic body, with NCP as the single largest party, but the two parties are contesting the coming election independently.