As expected, sitting MP Supriya Sule was named NCP’s candidate for the Baramati seat in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The party released its first list of 12 candidates for Maharashtra, retaining three of their four sitting MPs, the others being Udayanraje Bhosale and Dhananjay Mahadik.
Sule, the daughter of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, is seeking her third successive term from the Baramati constituency. She is the first official candidate from a major party to be named for any of the four parliamentary constituencies falling in the Pune district.
The Baramati parliamentary seat, earlier represented by Sharad Pawar, is considered to be the safest bet for NCP. The party has been winning the seat with a large vote margin for several years. In the last Lok Sabha elections, however, the victory margin had come down drastically, with Mahadeo Jankar of RSP putting up a spirited fight against Sule.
The BJP has been contesting the seat as per the seat-sharing arrangement with the Shiv Sena. However, the BJP is yet to decide its candidate for the Baramati seat. “The party should give the responsibility to me. I have the skill. I will win the Baramati seat,” said state BJP minister Girish Mahajan in Mumbai. “Nothing is impossible. There is no dominance of anyone left in any place. We have won where we were nothing,” he said.
Maval seat still to be decided
NCP is the first party to name a candidate for any of the four parliamentary seats in Pune district. The Congress has announced five candidates in its first list for the state, but not for any of the Pune seats. Interestingly, NCP’s first list does not include candidates either for the Madha seat or for Maval. After party chief Sharad Pawar, who was being exhorted to contest from Madha, pulled out of the race, it was expected that sitting MP Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil would once again be fielded. Pawar’s withdrawal had also paved the way for the candidature of his grand-nephew Parth Pawar from Maval, but he too is missing from the list.
State NCP chief Jayant Patil had hit back at him, saying the BJP would never win in Baramati. “The residents of Baramati have confidence in NCP leaders. The party chief, Supriya Sule and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar have been representing the area for decades,” he said.
The NCP has also fielded Udayanraje Bhosale, descendent of the family of Maratha king Shivaji, to recontest the Satara Lok Sabha seat, which he had won with a large margin in 2009 and 2014. His candidature comes after the NCP chief managed to calm down party leaders, including Shivendraraje Bhosale, cousin of Udayanraje, openly opposing the sitting NCP MP. The NCP chief had to intervene and convince local party leaders to bury their differences to avoid damaging the party’s chances in the Lok Sabha and assembly elections. The closeness of Bhosale with BJP had increased in the recent past, with the sitting NCP praising Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on various occasions. There were speculations that he would join the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Sitting MP Dhananjay Mahadik has also been named to contest from Kolhapur parliamentary seat, which he won in the 2014 elections. Mahadik had won the last elections on his third attempt. He had first contested on a Shiv Sena ticket in 2004 and then as an Independent in 2009, but had lost both times.
NCP’s first list did not include the name of Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil, the sitting MP from Madha seat.
In 2009, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had won the Madha seat and this year, NCP leaders had urged him to contest again from the seat. A few days ago, Pawar made it clear that he would not contest the Lok Sabha elections.