I will emerge as a giant killer,” pronounces Mahadev Jankar, the Mahayuti candidate against NCP’s Supriya Sule from Baramati Lok Sabha constituency, a Pawar stronghold for nearly three decades.
Jankar, who founded the Rashtriya Samaj Paksh in 2003, had contested the Madha Lok Sabha seat against Sule’s father, union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, in 2009. He came third behind Pawar and the BJP’s Subhash Deshmukh, but still got over 1 lakh votes.
“This time will be different,” Jankar says as he travels in villages on the outskirts of Pune on the last leg of his campaign. “In 2009, I contested on my own. I had no support from any other party.This time I am supported by the Shiv Sena, BJP, Shetkari Sanghatna and RP. This time we will teach the arrogant dynasts of Baramati a lesson.”
The Marathi word for dynasty, gharaneshahi, is one that you hear repeatedly from Jankar in speeches, corner meetings and on his door-to-door campaign. “This is a fight between a dynast and a fakir. The Pawars have done nothing for the downtrodden of this constituency who are fed up with them. Pawar’s sympathy for OBCs and Dalits is fake. This is why I have been fighting against the Pawars. Defeating the Pawars is important for me as they represent arrogance in the politics of the state,” he says.
Jankar, 44, started his political career 23 years ago, and claims to have not visited his home ever since. He does not have any property, he claims. The Rs 68-lakh flat in Goregaon that he declared in his nomination affidavit belongs to the party president, he says. “The flat is not mine, the next party president will inherit it.”
Jankar claims his opponents don’t have much to campaign against him. “The only thing they are targeting me with is that I am an outsider.
But I don’t agree. In this constituency there will be at least 50,000 votes with the surname Jankar. But I am sure there won’t be a single person with the surname Sule other than Supriya.”
He says Sule knows she has a tough battle on her hands. “Why are all members of the Pawar household on the road campaigning? If women from your household are out asking for votes, you certainly know that the fight is tough,” he says.
Riding a cavalcade of two autorickshaws equipped with loudspeakers and banners featuring his election symbol cup-saucer, and two cars with a dozen workers, Jankar is racing against time to finish his campaign.
“I am almost done. Only a few localities are left,” he says as he hands out campaign handbills to bystanders..”