DAYS AFTER the Ashok Chavan-led Congress held on to Nanded in the municipal corporation polls, the Sharad Pawar-led NCP retained its supremacy over the family bastion of Baramati. The NCP bagged all 13 gram panchayats in Baramati taluka, whose results where declared late Tuesday evening. In Pune district, NCP emerged the single largest party, bagging 111 gram panchayats out of the 218 that went to polls on Monday.
In the gram panchayat elections, though parties do not officially nominate candidates, the candidates are actually associated with party workers and leaders. “Though they are not our official nominees, all the 13 sarpanchs elected are of the NCP ideology,” agreed Sambhaji Holkar, president of NCP’s taluka unit. Said Kiran Gujar, a key member of the Sharad Pawar camp, “In the all 13 gram panchayats, the candidates distributed posters that had pictures of NCP chief Pawar, Ajit Pawar and Supriya Sule. These candidates are sponsored by the parties though officially parties don’t field them.”
In Masalwadi village, one group linked to the NCP was ousted by the voters as it reportedly failed to resolve their long-pending demand for water. Another group from the NCP stable won from Masalwadi. Masalwadi village had made news after then deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar allegedly threatened to cut off water supply to the village if people did not vote for Sule, his cousin. The then Aam Aadmi Party candidate, former IPS officer Suresh Khopade, had alleged in his police complaint that Pawar had made the threat during an election speech at Masalwadi on April 16. Pawar had denied the allegation.
NCP leaders said they have for the first time snatched the Garadwadi gram panchayat from a group considered long-time rivals of the NCP and Pawar. “After nearly 3 decades, Garadwadi gram panchayat has gone to the Pawar family,” said an NCP leader.
The NCP, which has the reputation for being a party of western Maharashtra, retained its supremacy in Pune district (which includes Baramati) winning 111 gram panchayats out of the 218 whose results were declared Tuesday evening. The Congress came second with 29 gram panchayats and the Shiv Sena third with 17 gram panchayats. The BJP, which has been threatening to sweep gram panchayats, managed only 11. It said this was still a major gain as it had ruled none of the gram panchayats.
The Congress did well in Bhor, Indapur and Velhe. The Shiv Sena performed in Ambegaon, Khed, Junnar and Haveli talukas. All these talukas are in Shirur constituency from where Sena leader Shivajirao Adhalrao-Patil has been elected MP thrice.
“After its outstanding performance in assembly and parliamentary polls, BJP won several polls. Now it seems both Congress and NCP, through their agitations on various public issues, are coming back into the public reckoning,” said Manav Kamble, an analyst.