After facing unexpected competition from a BJP-supported candidate in the 2014 general elections, this time, the NCP is treading cautiously to retain the Baramati seat — the hometurf of NCP chief Sharad Pawar and represented by his daughter Supriya Sule in the Lok Sabha.
Since the last few months, Sule has been reaching out to voters by visiting the localities and housing societies in her parliamentary constitutency, while other senior party leaders, including her cousin Ajit Pawar, have been devoting more time in Baramati constituency.
On Sunday, the NCP had organised a public rally, Nirdhar Yatra, in Vadgaon Budhruk on Sinhagad Road in the Khadakwasla Assembly segment, which is part of the Baramati parliamentary constituency. Party leader Chhagan Bhujbal, state NCP chief Jayant Patil, Ajit Pawar and Sule had addressed the gathering.
Pawar said Sule had been working hard for the people of her constituency, but received less votes than her rival in the Khadakwasla Assembly segment. “She got 28,000 less vote from the Khadakwasla Assembly segment area in the previous Lok Sabha polls. You gave votes to VHP-supported Mahadev Jankar. Will Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis sort out your issues? Sule is fighting for you all the time by taking up your issues,” Pawar said, urging the public to stand by her in the Lok Sabha polls.
He said the people gave the BJP a complete hold by electing only BJP candidates in the eight Assembly seats in Pune in 2014, which neither the Congress nor NCP ever got, but the problems of the city are mounting as those in power have failed to resolve them.
Bhujbal said the BJP was trying to divert attention from its “failure by creating communal divide”, and urged people not to fall for their election gimmicks. “People should not forget that their MP was felicitated as the best parliamentarian recently for her work,” he said.
Sule had managed to get 5,21,562 voters in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, while Jankar of Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP) with the BJP’s support had received 4,51,843 votes. The margin of 69,719 votes for the winning candidate was the lowest in Baramati parliamentary constituency, which was represented for years by Sharad Pawar till 2009.
Six Assembly segments — Daund, Indapur, Baramati, Purandar, Bhor and Khadakwasla — fall in the Baramati parliamentary constituency. In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Sule had received less votes in the three Assembly segments of Daund, Purandar and Khadakwasla, making it a cause of concern for the NCP. She had got 28,127 less votes in Khadakwasla, 25,548 less in Daund and and 5,636 less votes in Purandar than Jankar, but got elected by garnering maximum votes from Baramati, Indapur and Bhor Assembly segments. Later, the NCP could win only two of the six Assembly seats in 2014 state Assembly election, the others being won by the BJP, Shiv Sena, RSP and Congress each.
Now, the Baramati parliamentary constituency has witnessed an increase of 1.65 lakh voters with the maximum number in the Khadakwasla Assembly segment.