After LS results boost, Sharad Pawar now looks to take the fight to nephew Ajit in Baramati Assembly seat

Baramati is likely to witness another Pawar vs Pawar contest in the Assembly election with Sharad Pawar projecting his grand-nephew Yugendra Pawar as possible contender against incumbent MLA Ajit Pawar

Updated - June 12, 2024 01:55 am IST

Published - June 12, 2024 01:22 am IST - Pune

Preparing Gen Z: NCP president Sharad Pawar with party MLA Rohit Pawar in Pune.

Preparing Gen Z: NCP president Sharad Pawar with party MLA Rohit Pawar in Pune.

With the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP-SP) faction led by veteran Sharad Pawar besting his nephew Ajit Pawar’s ruling NCP faction in the recent Lok Sabha election, fresh political equations are in the offing in the Baramati Assembly segment.

Mr. Ajit Pawar has been the reigning legislator here for 33 years since 1991, winning it a record seven times consecutively. Now, as both rival NCP factions gird up for the Assembly election barely three months away, banners have sprouted in Baramati projecting his nephew, Yugendra Pawar as a possible contender against him.

The NCP (SP) won eight of 10 Lok Sabha seats it contested, defeating Mr. Ajit Pawar’s (and the ruling Mahayuti’s) candidates in Ahmednagar, Beed and Shirur constituencies. The biggest loss for the ruling NCP was in Baramati, where Mr. Ajit Pawar’s wife, Sunetra Pawar, was defeated by her sister-in-law and Mr. Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule by more than 1.5 lakh votes.

Three-day tour

On Tuesday, the 83-year-old Sharad Sr. began a three-day tour of Baramati with Mr. Yugendra Pawar, his grand-nephew.

While the NCP patriarch met traders’ and doctors’ associations in Baramati, his grand-nephew, who is the son of Mr. Ajit Pawar’s elder brother Shrinivas Pawar. held a ‘Janata Darbar’ in Baramati.

Mr. Yugendra Pawar first stepped out of the shadows to enter the political spotlight after his father bitterly censured Mr. Ajit Pawar for leaving Mr. Sharad Pawar’s side and aligning with the BJP.

With the senior Pawar effectively ‘isolating’ the ruling NCP chief within the Pawar clan, the youthful Mr. Yugendra Pawar, who has done his studies in Europe and the U.S., had run an effective campaign along with his cousin, MLA Rohit Pawar [another grand-nephew of the senior Pawar].

Mr. Yugendra Pawar, a businessman, is a director in the Sharayu Group and president of the Baramati Wrestling Association – establishments through which he has developed a firm grassroots connect in Baramati.

According to senior political analyst Vivek Bhavsar, after the Lok Sabha results boost, Mr. Sharad Pawar now intends to end his nephew’s stranglehold over the Baramati Assembly seat as well.

“After isolating Ajit within the family, Sharad Pawar’s objective is to undercut the former’s hold over Baramati city and other parts of the Assembly segment. It is small wonder that given the sympathy among the electorate for his candidates including Supriya Sule in the Lok Sabha, Yugendra’s name is now being floated as a possible contender for the Assembly election against Ajit Pawar himself,” said Mr. Bhavsar.

Ever since Mr. Ajit Pawar split the party in July 2023 to align with the BJP and join CM Eknath Shinde’s Mahayuti government as Deputy Chief Minister, the vacuum within the NCP (SP) has been filled by Mr. Rohit Pawar, who took on Mr. Ajit Pawar and efficiently handled Ms. Sule’s campaign.

‘Grassroots connect’

Mr. Rohit Pawar has expressed his wish to contest from his present segment, Karjat-Jamkhed. This has brought Mr. Yugendra Pawar to the fore for the impending Baramati Vidhan Sabha fight.

“Yugendra Pawar has strong grassroots connect in more than 100 villages in Baramati. He has been involved in several drought-mitigation schemes through the Sharayu Foundation. We have approached Pawar saaheb to consider him as a candidate for the Baramati Assembly contest,” said an NCP (SP) leader.

In the Baramati Lok Sabha result this time, it was ironically in Mr. Ajit Pawar’s Baramati Assembly segment that Ms. Sule managed to get the maximum lead over Ms. Sunetra Pawar – more than 47,000 votes. Now, Ajit Dada [as he is popularly known] himself may find the going tough if a rival member within the family is pitted against him.

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