April 21, 2024

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Sunetra Pawar is the second member of Ajit Pawar’s family to contest Lok Sabha elections.

Mumbai:

In Maharashtra’s Baramati, a historic showdown awaits as the splintered National Congress Party (NCP) gears up for a unique ‘Pawar vs Pawar’ contest in Supriya Sule, daughter of the party’s patriarch Sharad Pawar, going up against Sunetra Pawar, wife of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.

Baramati, in Pune district, has evolved over the years from facing devastating famines into a thriving hub of agriculture, industry, and commerce. Decades of Pawar family dominance have shaped the political narrative of this region. The Pawar family’s influence has been integral to this transformation, with Sharad Pawar’s political career tracing back to the 1960s when he first won in this constituency.

Schism In The Family

The emergence of two factions within the NCP, led by Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar, has set the stage for a dramatic electoral showdown. The NCP’s founding faction has nominated Supriya Sule, 54, while Sunetra Pawar, 60 and Ms Sule’s sister-in-law, has entered the fray as the candidate representing the rival faction.

On July 2 last year, Ajit Pawar, accompanied by eight NCP MLAs, aligned with the Eknath Shinde administration, prompting a fracture within the NCP party ranks. The division within the NCP has left voters and party workers with a choice between two Pawars.

“It will be a very tough choice for voters and party workers to choose between two Pawars. It is a contest they would never have imagined before July 2 last year,” said Madan Devkate, a local leader, as quoted by news agency PTI.

Since the 1960s, the Baramati Lok Sabha constituency, encompassing Baramati, Indapur, Daund, Purandar, Bhor, and Khadakwasla assembly seats, has served as Sharad Pawar’s stronghold.

Ajit Pawar has represented Baramati as an MLA since 1991, and had registered a resounding victory in 2019 by securing an astonishing 83 per cent of the vote share.

Supriya vs Sunetra

The Baramati Lok Sabha constituency consists of six assembly segments: Baramati town, Indapur, Daund, Purandar, Bhor, and Khadakwasla.

Within these segments, the Congress holds sway over Bhor and Purandar, while Baramati and Indapur have historically favoured the NCP (prior to its division). The BJP holds influence in Daund and Khadakwasala.

In the 2019 elections, Supriya Sule clinched her third consecutive win in the Baramati constituency under the NCP banner.

NCP (SP) – the Sharad Pawar faction, a member of the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), along with Shiv Sena (UBT) and Congress, will vie for 10 seats in Maharashtra, a state with 48 Lok Sabha seats. Baramati’s polls are scheduled for the third phase on May 7.

For Sule, aged 54, this marks her debut in a Lok Sabha election where the NCP’s support base will be divided between followers of her father and her cousin. While Sule relies on the allegiance of the Pawar Clan’s supporters and her track record as a Lok Sabha representative, Ajit Pawar can garner additional backing from Shiv Sena cadres under Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s leadership, as well as the BJP.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP candidate Kanchan Kul, wife of Daund MLA Rahul Kul, suffered defeat to Ms Sule by a margin of over 1.55 lakh votes.

Ms Sule’s victory margin in Baramati during her debut Lok Sabha contest in 2009 was 3,36,831 against BJP nominee Kanta Nalawade. This margin decreased to 69,719 in 2014 when Rashtriya Samaj Paksha leader Mahadev Jankar contested against her. In 2019, Ms Sule’s vote tally surged to 6,86,714 with a vote share of 52.63%, securing victory by over 1.55 lakh votes.

Sunetra Pawar is the second member of Ajit Pawar’s family to contest Lok Sabha elections. In 2019, Ajit’s son Parth contested from the Maval seat in Pune district but was defeated by Shiv Sena’s Shrirang Barne.

Sunetra Pawar hails from a politically active family in Marathwada. She is the sister of Padamsinh Patil, a former minister who initially belonged to the Congress but later joined Sharad Pawar’s NCP in 1999.

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