Soon after senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar and several other party leaders joined the BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra, many party workers in Baramati held celebrations on Sunday.
Junior Pawar, who is affectionately known as “dada” or elder brother, is a favourite among party workers in Baramati.
“For us Ajit dada is our guardian, just like Sharad Pawar had been for us for many years,” said Sanket Aware, who runs a grocery shop. Aware, like many other supporters who have been voting for Ajit for many years, said they will always back him without any disrespect to Sharad Pawar.
Amar Mahadik, NCP leader, who works closely with Ajit at the local level in Baramati, claimed around 80 per cent of the workers are with junior Pawar.
“We all have great respect for Sharad Pawar Saheb but we also know that if the region has to develop and the party has to progress, there’s no alternative than Ajit dada,” Mahadik said.
The people of Baramati have great respect for the Pawar family, and they see Ajit as the worthy successor to his uncle (Sharad Pawar) in a town of around 70,000 population which has always been a bastion of the NCP. Regardless of Pawar junior’s political affiliations, the people of Baramati say they are likely to support him.
Sharad Pawar, his nephew Ajit, and his daughter Supriya Sule have been dominating Baramati, around 250 kilometres from Mumbai, for five decades. The region, scarred by drought, has progressively integrated itself with the industrialisation and prosperous sugar belt of Western Maharashtra.
Despite the controversies, Ajit has managed to maintain a hold over his constituency. He has undertaken several development projects in the town, including the construction of roads, schools, and hospitals.