Rohit Pawar, grandson of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, is playing a leading role in the Lok Sabha elections by campaigning for party candidates in Maval, Shirur, Ahmednagar, Madha and other constituencies. While he may not be their star campaigner, Rohit prefers to call himself a star karyakarta. In an interview with The Indian Express, he talks about how the strategy is to meet key people and groups.
How is the campaign going for NCP candidates? What are the key issues that you are focusing on?
The campaign is going strong. There is a smooth coordination between the Congress-NCP alliance and friendly parties (mitra paksha). We are focusing on traffic, water, farmers’ issues, employment, safety and industrial development. Water management is a core area and there is concern over many factories closing down – 10 to 15 per cent factories are closing down in five to six MIDCs (Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation) – in PCMC (Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation), Maval and other areas. Parth Pawar, NCP candidate from Maval, is also focusing on the quality of roads, traffic issues, scarcity of water in some areas among others. There are concerns over security in the PCMC, where more than 80 murder incidents took place in the last four years. In areas such as Junnar, youth have to go to Mumbai for employment, so we are trying to explore cottage industries or small businesses. There is a lot of discontent in the farming community and among youth in Ahmednagar, so we are looking at developing tourism at places such as Ahmednagar, which will generate employment.
What is your role as one of the star karyakartas of the NCP?
Our party has many leaders, who have a lot of experience. On my part, I travel to Ahmednagar, Madha, Shirur and Maval. We have two kinds of campaigning – one that involves senior ex-ministers, who deliver speeches. Since I have less experience in politics, what we do is meet people in other parties including the BJP, the Shiv Sena and to some extent in the Congress, who are unhappy with the authorities in their own party. See, meeting one such leader or office-bearer is equivalent to meeting 5,000 people. In Ahmednagar, for instance, we visited seven villages where BJP workers and Shiv Sainiks have officially decided to support our party candidate. So, we have covered at least 5,000 to 6,000 votes this way, which may not have come to us because of the loyalty towards the BJP. On Friday, in Maval, we met eight BJP office-bearers and karyakartas, who want to support the NCP candidate owing to the work Ajit Pawar has done here. We had meetings on Dehu Road, in Maval and the city, where we met medical and lawyers’ associations, business associates and others. Also Sharad Pawar has been around in politics for more than 55 years and people respect him a lot. So, when a family member visits the villagers, they feel happy. We tell them what we have done and what the government has not done. What also happens is that when a person from the same family addresses them, there is also an emotional connect.
On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Ahmednagar saw a massive turnout and BJP candidate Dr Sujay Vikhe Patil feels confident about winning the seat. What are NCP candidate Sangram Jagtap’s chances?
Comparisons are being made to his speech of 2014 when the Prime Minister had visited the same venue at Ahmednagar. Back then, the PM made a lot of promises. But now there is a feeling of being let down as people’s expectations have not been met. There are few cattle camps, owners of these camps do not know if they will get money for fodder and water. Earlier, a cow was giving ten litres of milk, which has now gone down by half. Previously, work for money under MGNREGA was being aggressively implemented which is not the case now and hence there is no work on the farms. This is not a political statement, but people have no faith in this government…