PUNE: As the battle lines are drawn for the most important constituency in Pune district, the experts say unlike all other Lok Sabha seats, the contest in Baramati is actually between Sharad Pawar and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The BJP is leaving no stone unturned while targeting Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Chief Sharad Pawar. BJP is dreaming of winning the election from the Pawar bastion, Baramati Lok Sabha constituency, from where Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule is contesting election for the third time. However, achieving the goal looks very difficult as unlike the last Lok Sabha election, there is no Modi wave and Sule has done a lot more legwork in the last five years. Baramati comprises six Assembly segments in the constituency, two are represented by the NCP
(Baramati and Indapur) and one each by Rashtriya Samaj Party (RSP) (Daund), BJP (Khadakwasla), Shiv Sena (Purandar) and Congress (Bhor). This time, BJP has given candidature to Kanchan Kul, wife of Daund MLA Rahul Kul. MLA Rahul Kul is the only Rashtriya Samaj Party MLA.
BJP candidate Kanchan Kul hails from the influential Nimbalkar family of Baramati. Her father-in-law, late Subhash Kul, was close to NCP supremo Sharad Pawar. During 1990, he played a big role in influencing 11 independent MLAs to join the ruling party under the leadership of Sharad Pawar, who was then in Congress. Similarly, Kanchan Kul’s mother-in-law Ranjana was an elected MLA from Daund after the demise of Subhash Kul. MLA Rahul Kul is active in politics since the last two decades.
BJP leaders claim that just like last time, the NCP candidate will face a challenge in Daund, Purandar and Khadakwasla. The party leaders said that Congress leader Harshvardhan Patil’s supporters are not participating in campaigning as they are still upset that NCP supported Dattatray Bharane during the run for Assembly in 2014.
During the last Lok Sabha elections, two-time MP Supriya Sule secured fewer votes in Daund (25,000) Purandar (5,000) and Khadakwasla (28,500) than her opponent Mahadev Jankar (RSP). Jankar was supported by the BJP. Baramati constituency consists of Khadakwasla, Balewadi, IT hub Hinjawadi along with Dhankawadi and Chandni Chowk, which are part of Pune city.
The supporters of BJP claimed that the ruling party has an edge over NCP in these parts. On the other side, the BJP is calculating cast equation of Dhangar and Maratha communities.
The RSP is representing the Dhangar community and it is the alliance party of BJP. Senior BJP leader Chandrakant Patil has made Baramati his residence since the elections have been announced. BJP National Party President Amit Shah has urged his men to ensure a win from Baramati, which is close to impossible task.
One of the senior leaders of BJP said, “The NCP is a competitor of BJP. We want to defeat NCP in Baramati which is Pawar family’s bastion. If we are successful in doing so, NCP will get a major setback in State politics.”
NCP has been winning from Baramati Lok Sabha seat since 1999. Due to the Modi wave, only last year, there was a reduction in the margin of votes. Taking a cue from the last result, Sule has done a lot of work in areas where she didn’t get a response. The insiders in NCP admit that BJP leaders are flexing their muscles to ensure that Baramati Lok Sabha election does not become a cake walk for NCP, which has retained Baramati seat in its fold for long.
- 2014: Winner Supriya Sule: 5,21,562 votes against Mahadev Jankar (RSP): 45,843 votes.
- 2009: Winner Supriya Sule: 4,87,827 votes against Kanta Jaysing Nalawade (BJP): 150996 votes.
- 2004: Winner: Sharad Pawar 6,34,555 votes against Pritviraj Jachak (BJP): 2,11,850 votes.