BJP fails to wrest the seat despite pulling out all stops
While the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena combine failed to breach Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar’s bastion of Baramati, the saffron alliance succeeded in dealing a severe blow to the prestige of the Pawar clan in Maval.
Mr. Pawar’s daughter, two-time NCP MP Supriya Sule is home and dry in Baramati leading by a handsome margin of more than 1.5 lakh votes, but his grand nephew Parth Pawar — son of senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar — has been comprehensively knocked out of the contest in his political debut in Maval.
According to the latest ECI data, Ms. Sule has secured 6,79,803 votes compared to her rival, the BJP-Sena’s Kanchan Kool, who managed to garner 5,26,979 votes.
In Maval, sitting Shiv Sena MP Shrirang Barne has secured a whopping 7,06,494 votes — securing a colossal lead of more than two lakh votes over Mr. Parth Pawar, who has managed 4,921,73 votes so far.
Mr. Parth Pawar’s expected defeat will make it the first time in more than 50 years that a member of the Pawar family has lost a major election. It was Mr. Pawar who first entered the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in 1967 winning the Baramati Assembly seat.
Likewise, his nephew Ajit Pawar (Mr. Parth’s father) won the Baramati Lok Sabha seat in his political debut in 1991 and has since not lost any election. Ms. Supriya Sule too won the Lok Sabha election from Baramati in 2009 and has retained it since.
Even more than Mr. Sharad Pawar, it was Mr. Ajit Pawar’s political prominence which was on the line in the Maval contest as it is believed that he had lobbied hard — and controversially — for his son’s candidacy.
According to observers, he banked heavily on the covert support of local BJP strongman of Pimpri-Chinchwad, Laxman Jagtap, owing to Mr. Jagtap’s intense resentment of Mr. Barne.
However, going by the trends, it appears that Mr. Jagtap — and the BJP — did campaign wholeheartedly for Mr. Barne after a truce between the two leaders was effected just days before Maval went to the polls on April 29.
The BJP had vocally expressed its determination to supplant the Pawar clan from Baramati, the family’s hitherto impregnable bastion. It pulled out all stops including a rally by BJP national president Amit Shah.
However, despite senior BJP leader Chandrakant Patil’s vaunted slogan of ‘Mission Baramati’ — the mission came a cropper.
In the 2014 general election, Ms. Sule had endured a scare after Rashtriya Samaj Paksha leader Mahadev Jankar (now an NDA ally) gave her a tough fight. She had managed to win by a slender margin of less than 70,000 votes.
Yet this time, Ms. Sule was vigilant, commencing her campaign well in advance.
During the course of her campaign, she carefully avoided overt personal attacks on her opponent, choosing to focus instead on making Baramati ‘tanker-free’ by addressing the acute water crisis in several parts of her constituency.
In contrast, the privileged and cloistered neophyte Parth Pawar, distinctly uncomfortable in the vernacular, failed to cut much of a figure with the local populace as opposed to the experienced Mr. Barne, who successfully projected himself as the ‘son of the soil’, apparently rooted to people’s problems.
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