Pawar vs Pawar: It's Sunetra vs Sule in Baramati

Mumbai: The Nationalist Congress Party on Saturday declared the candidature of Sunetra Pawar, wife of Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, from Baramati Lok Sabha seat, pitting her against sister-in-law and Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule from the home turf of Pawars. In her first reaction, Sunetra Pawar said this was a lucky day for her.

The announcement of her candidature was made by Maharashtra NCP unit president Sunil Tatkare, hours after the NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar) declared its first list of five candidates for Lok Sabha elections from Maharashtra.

The NCP(SP) retained Supriya Sule from Baramati and fielded Nilesh Lanke, who switched sides from the Ajit Pawar camp, from the Ahmednagar constituency.

Tatkare said the battle in Baramati is of ideology and principles, and not a family one.

“This is a lucky day for me. I thank Narendra Modiji, Amit Shah, and all leaders of Mahayuti (Shiv Sena, BJP, and NCP) for considering me capable of fighting the election,” Sunetra Pawar told a Marathi news channel.

“Voters have taken the fight in their hands,” she said when asked about facing off with Supriya Sule.

Earlier in the day, Shiv Sena leader Vijay Shivtare, a fierce critic of Ajit Pawar, decided against contesting from Baramati in upcoming elections, dropping his belligerent stand.

With Sunetra Pawar, a novice in electoral politics, in the field, Baramati is set to witness a first-of-its-kind Pawar versus Pawar battle, post the split in the party founded by the Pawar senior in 1999.

The real fight lies between Ajit Pawar, who joined the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government last July, and his uncle Sharad Pawar, a wily and battle-hardened politician.

The Baramati Lok Sabha constituency includes six assembly segments – Baramati town, Indapur, Daund, Purandar, Bhor and Khadakwasla.

Sharad Pawar has won this seat multiple times in the past. He has a committed voter base and enjoys immense goodwill among people.

In the 2019 elections, Supriya Sule scored a hat-trick of winning the Baramati constituency as NCP nominee.

Even before Sunetra Pawar’s name was formally announced, she had started campaigning and meeting various social groups.

To guard his home turf, Sharad Pawar recently visited the family of Congress legislator Sangram Thopte and met his father Anantrao Thopte, an old rival.

NCP (SP), part of the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), also comprising Shiv Sena (UBT) and Congress, will contest 10 seats in Maharashtra, which sends 48 members to Lok Sabha.

William Murphy

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