Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023

Baramati not for taking: Supriya Sule seeks to make her point via Mumbai shop

Dogged by BJP aggressively going after the Pawar family turf, NCP MP showcases her seat, cold drink to dairy.

NCP MP Supriya Sule. (Photo: PTI)

Last Thursday, NCP MP Supriya Sule put out a four-minute-long video on social media showing her rummaging through various food items stocked at a prominent retail chain in Mumbai.

Apart from showcasing Sule’s shopping skills, the innocuous video had a political message, as every product the NCP MP picked up in the upmarket shop was manufactured in her Lok Sabha constituency of Baramati.

The optics that Sule was trying to project, that Baramati was a major production centre, coincided with the BJP aggressively going after the Pawar family turf.

The ruling party has declared a ‘Mission Baramati’ and claimed that it would upset the NCP first family in its stronghold, the same as they did in Amethi in Uttar Pradesh by defeating Rahul Gandhi in 2019.

The Pawar family, led by party chief Sharad Pawar, has held control of the Baramati bastion for over three decades. A defeat there would also be a blow to the Opposition’s fledgling plans of a united front given that Pawar will be central to any such formation.

With the BJP expectedly ahead of others in starting the countdown to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Sule’s video was seen by many as the start of the pushback by the NCP.

When contacted, Sule said: “I wouldn’t say I did it intentionally. But I just wanted to put things on record. Take any popular product like a cold drink or a chocolate or dairy products and check the manufacturing place. You will find either Daund or Indapur or Purandar or Bhor. All in my constituency. The factories, the industry and all-around development just bust the claim that development is concentrated in only Baramati town.”

‘Mission Baramati’ is part of BJP’s strategy to concentrate on 144 Lok Sabha seats which it did not win last time. Senior leaders and Union ministers have been deployed to rally the party in these seats, including Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.


The Lok Sabha seat falling in Pune district has been held without a break by the Pawar family since 1996, when Sharad Pawar won the polls. In 2004, daughter Sule took over, winning it in 2009, 2014 and 2019. Pawar had earlier won the seat in 1984 and 1991.

Among the six Assembly segments of the constituency, Indapur and Baramati are held by the NCP while ally Congress won Purandar and Bhor in 2019. The BJP won Khadakwasla and Daund, and the urban areas, especially the Khadakwasla belt, may remain out of the NCP’s reach.

The wife of Daund winner Rahul Kul, Kanchan, in fact, contested against Sule in the 2019 general elections. Though she lost by over 1.5 lakh votes, the BJP got more than 5.3 lakh votes – the highest ever for an opponent of the Pawars in terms of percentage of total votes.


The BJP’s victory in the two Assembly seats, Kanchan Kul’s 2019 performance and NCP’s not-so-cordial relation with Congress, including sitting MLAs, in the area are some of the reasons BJP thinks it has a chance to upset Sule.

Apart from being their political base, Baramati also matters to the Pawars as a symbol of what an NCP regime can do. The Lok Sabha seat is a hub of businesses, industries, agriculture and education institutes, and the NCP never misses giving the credit for the same to the Pawar family.

Above all, the sustained targeting of Baramati sends out the message that even NCP’s safest seat could be in danger, with the potential of hurting the party morale. A BJP leader said Sule’s actions show that its attempts were paying off. “The BJP functions as per target. We did it in Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi, and we will repeat it in Baramati in 2024,” said Keshav Upadhye, chief spokesperson of the party in Maharashtra.

He added that visits by Union ministers were just a part of the BJP strategy, and that the party has been working tirelessly on the ground, ensuring Sule is tied to her seat too.

The BJP is targeting the NCP MP on issues such as lack of representation of Dhangar community, dynastic politics and the “terror” of the Pawar family in the area.


The BJP’s Dhangar face is Gopichand Padalkar, who contested the 2019 Assembly polls from Baramati seat against Sule’s cousin and current Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly Ajit Pawar, but lost by the highest margin in the state. He is leading from the front in accusing the NCP of neglecting his community.

Sule counters claims that the NCP failed to support the Dhangar demand for Scheduled Tribe status. “The BJP is in power at the Centre and it is up to the Union government to decide the demand. How can we in the NCP be blamed for it?” Sule asked.


She similarly dismissed claims of Union Minister for Coal and Mines Pralhad Joshi, who during his visit to Baramati had said that the Pawar family “terrorised” people and opponents in Baramati.

“The constituency has the highest percentage of implementation of the Centre’s schemes, while law and order is possibly the best here. The local residents here just laugh when outsiders say the Pawar family is terrorising anyone. We don’t need to do all that. Our work speaks,” she said.

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Sule added that she is “thankful” to the BJP for starting preparations for elections so early. “The early start just gave us an opportunity to scream our achievements a bit louder and in a more organised manner. I am happy that BJP considers me such a strong opponent,” she said.

First published on: 04-12-2022 at 00:43 IST
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