Battle for Baramati: Pawar vs. Pawar


Sharad Pawar’s daughter and a three-term MP Supriya Sule has been pitted against Ajit Pawar’s wife Sunetra Pawar…reports Asian Lite News

Baramati has emerged as the development model at the national level but during the present Lok Sabha elections, it has become a battleground between Sharad Pawar and his estranged nephew Ajit Pawar.

Incidentally, Pawar’s daughter and a three-term MP Supriya Sule has been pitted against Ajit Pawar’s wife Sunetra Pawar who was until recently associated with social work.

With the fight between sisters-in-law, Baramati has gained prominence across the country as both Pawar factions have made the elections a prestige issue. Incidentally, both Pawar senior and Ajit Pawar and also Supriya and Sunetra are constantly projecting the electoral fight as an ideological one and for the cause of development by charting different paths.

Ironically, the division in the Pawar family is out in the open as a large number of family members including Ajit Pawar’s real brothers and nephews apart from Pawar senior’s sisters are openly campaigning for Supriya’s victory. This has forced Ajit Pawar to make a statement that he, his wife and two sons are isolated and they are left to take on the other family members in the present fight.

Pawar senior in particular has refrained from making an emotional appeal citing his age though he has sent a stern signal that the fight is real with a remote chance of a patch-up with his estranged nephew.

Supriya, who is the winner of the best parliamentarian awards, is seeking votes on her performance during three terms apart from her father’s goodwill and stellar contribution to Baramati and the country during his political life spanning over six decades. On the other hand, Sunetra is heavily banking on her husband Ajit Pawar’s charisma and his ‘no nonsense’ attitude in actively taking up the development agenda.

Supriya has been quite categorical in appealing to the voters that the Lok Sabha election is crucial as it will decide the fate of policies to be framed for further strengthening the democratic set-up and protecting the Constitution. Besides, she is flagging off falling unemployment, rising inflation, a burgeoning divide between the rich and poor, abuse of central probe agencies and a decade of scams and cover-ups.

The recent controversy over Electoral Bonds is prominently highlighted by Supriya as one of the biggest scams during PM Modi’s 10-year rule. As far as Baramati is concerned, Supriya is taking up issues pertaining to water scarcity, the development of other assembly segments on the lines of Baramati.

On the other hand, Sunetra’s appeal is for continuity, stability and pursuing the development of the country by making Narendra Modi the Prime Minister for the third time in succession. She echoes her husband’s theory that a double-engine government, one represented by the BJP-led government at the Centre and the MahaYuti government comprising BJP, Shiv Sena and NCP in the state, is the need of hour for inclusive and sustainable growth.

Sunetra and her husband Ajit Pawar are riding on PM Modi’s wave and Modi’s guarantee while singing the Viksit Bharat tune.

Sunetra may not be active in politics till her nomination but she is certainly hopeful to seek votes on her social work, especially in the field of environment protection.

Even though the campaigning is yet to gather momentum, a divide among the voters is visible for now. The old guards, farming community and working class are siding with Pawar senior while the youth are showing their faith and confidence in Ajit Pawar’s leadership. However, the picture will be clear once both factions speed up their house-to-house outreach to voters.

Over the years, Baramati has witnessed fights between Pawar and the rest and later between Shiv Sena-Congress and BJP-Shiv Sena. However, since the 2014 and 2019 elections, the BJP has made sufficient inroads in Baramati. This is for the first time in the recent period, the Baramati constituency will witness a fight within the family and observers say BJP has succeeded in putting uncle and nephew against each other.

Of the six assembly constituencies, Baramati and Indapur are held by Ajit Pawar faction, Daund and Khandakwasala by BJP and Bhor and Purandar by Congress. After the July 2023 split in NCP, a faction led by Sharad Pawar does not have representation in any of these constituencies but it is confident to make up the gap with the support of Congress legislators and the party’s following. Ajit Pawar’s faction is confident in getting support from the BJP apart from its cadres.

More importantly, BJP was successful in bringing the former minister Harshvardhan Patil from Indapur on board as he had initially expressed reservation over extending support to Sunetra due to his political rivalry with Ajit Pawar. However, Patil, who is now with BJP, after his meeting with Dy CM Devendra Fadnavis has agreed to keep his differences aside to work for Sunetra after the promise for similar cooperation to him in the upcoming assembly election from Ajit Pawar.

Further, Ajit Pawar’s faction was worried over BJP MLA from Daund Rahul Kul’s stand as his wife had fought against Supriya as BJP nominee in the 2019 elections but lost. However, BJP leadership had assured Ajit Pawar that Kul will extend his support which is crucial for Sunetra to increase her vote share. In addition, Ajit Pawar heaved a sigh of relief after former minister and Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena leader Vijay Shivtare withdrew from the race following intervention by CM Eknath Shinde and Fadnavis.

In the 2019 elections, Supriya polled 6,86,714 votes against BJP nominee Kanchan Kul who got 5,30,940 votes. In Supriya’s victory, Ajit Pawar had played a major role by garnering votes in his Baramati assembly segment. This time, Supriya will have to make up the loss by shoring up support from other segments.

In 2014 polls, Supriya emerged victorious by getting 5,31,562 votes against Rashtriya Samaj Paksha founder Mahadev Jankar who polled 4,51,843 votes. During the Modi wave, Jankar, who was supported by BJP, had given a tough fight to Supriya.

In 2009, when Supriya was elected for the first time to Lok Sabha from Baramati, she defeated BJP nominee Kanta Nalawade. Supriya polled 4,87,827 votes against 1,50,996 by Nalawade.

Sule alleges BJP ploy to finish off Sharad Pawar

NCP (Sharad Chandra Pawar) leader Supriya Sule on Sunday said that the BJP’s has conspired to field her sister-in-law Sunetra Pawar, against her in the Baramati Lok Sabha seat with an aim to finish the party chief Sharad Pawar.

In an exclusive interaction with ANI in Pune, Sule said, “My fight is not against a person, but their mindset and policies. You have witnessed me in politics for the past 18 years; I have never made any personal comment on anyone.”

Sule said Sunetra Pawar is the wife of her “elder brother and the elder sister-in-law is considered a mother.”

It’s dirty politics by the BJP. Sunetra Pawar, being my elder brother’s wife, holds a special place in the family as the “vahini” (in Marathi) elder sister-in-law and she is a mother figure for me, but she has been given to contest against me just to create rift in the family, and the BJP is behind all this. It’s a conspiracy of the BJP, which is aimed at finishing off the name of Pawar Saheb (Sharad Pawar); they have nothing to do with the development etc of the constituency,” she added.

Meanwhile, after the announcement as the official candidate from the Grand Alliance for the Baramati seat, Sunetra Pawar said, “Today is a huge day for me. I want to thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union HM Amit Shah, Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde, Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar for showing faith one me.”

The Baramati seat in Pune district has become a key battleground in Maharashtra’s Lok Sabha election after candidates from both the Sharad Pawar and Ajit Pawar factions of the Nationalist Congress Party were announced, turning it into a ‘Pawar versus Pawar’ contest.

The Baramati Lok Sabha constituency has been a stronghold of Sharad Pawar since the 1960s, Ajit Pawar has been a successful MLA from Baramati since 1991, with a significant victory in the 2019 elections and said to have had a major influence on vidhansabha seats of Indapur, Daund, Purandar, Bhor, and Khadakwasla, which comes under Baramati Lok Sabha.

Supriya Sule will be contesting this seat for the third time, while Sunetra Pawar will be making her political debut in this election.

Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra will be held in five phases on April 19, April 26, May 7, May 13 and May 20. The counting of votes will be held on June 4.

The state, with its 48 Lok Sabha seats, is the second-largest contributor to the lower house of Parliament after Uttar Pradesh. Known for its political diversity and significant electoral influence, Maharashtra plays a crucial role in shaping national politics.

In the 2019 elections, the BJP emerged as the largest party with 23 seats, followed by the Shiv Sena with 18 seats. (ANI)

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