A day after NCP leader Sharad Pawar made it clear that no one from his family, apart from himself and his daughter Supriya Sule, will contest the forthcoming elections, party leaders from Pimpri-Chinchwad have decided to make an appeal to him to reconsider his decision, and allow Parth Pawar to contest from Maval constituency. Parth Pawar is the son of former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, who is nephew of Sharad Pawar.
NCP leaders in Pimpri-Chinchwad said they had chalked out a strategy to defeat the Shiv Sena in Maval and Shirur constituencies, adding that they will persuade the party chief to review his decision at least for Maval constituency where Parth Pawar, NCP leader Ajit Pawar’s son, has become a popular face in a short time.
“It is indeed a jolt to the party that Parth will not be contesting from Maval constituency. Parth had done a lot of ground work and there was curiosity and interest about him among voters in Pimpri-Chinchwad and Maval,” said NCP leader Yogesh Behl, who is considered the right-hand man of former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar. Behl is also a former mayor of Pimpri-Chinchwad.
Behl said he will take a team of leaders and workers to meet party chief Sharad Pawar. “We will tell him that we have the opportunity to grab Maval away from the Shiv Sena for the first time as Parth looks like a strong contender,” he added. Behl also said Parth was a well-informed, politically well-grounded and non-controversial candidate. “We will all work unitedly for him. In fact, we had already started his campaign. Parth has been touring the constituency extensively.”
Behl further said the NCP had a strong presence in Pimpri-Chinchwad and across Maval constituency. “When voting in 2014 Lok Sabha election and 2014 Assembly election were compared, the NCP had polled 50,000 more votes in 2014 Assembly elections than the BJP-Sena.” In Maval, especially, NCP leaders have become active in the last few weeks as Parth had started touring Pimpri-Chinchwad and Maval. He was taking stock of the progress made in the area and in a conversation with NCP leaders and workers, he sounded confident that he was ready to contest the election if the party approved his candidature.
“We were enthusiastic about Parth contesting from Maval. We are confident that it is only a member from Pawar family who can defeat a BJP-Shiv Sena candidate,” said an NCP leader. Like Behl, other NCP leaders also said the atmosphere in Maval was tipping in favour of the party because of the presence of Parth and the rivalry between BJP and Shiv Sena leaders.
“Parth had the advantage as he comes from the Pawar family. Besides, BJP and Shiv Sena have been attacking each other in Maval. BJP leaders have taken strong objection to sitting MP Shrirang Barne, who is being fielded again by the Shiv Sena. Many leaders, who are opposing Barne, were earlier with the NCP and were close to Ajit Pawar,” said an NCP leader.
The NCP has consistently lost the Maval seat to the Shiv Sena. In fact, the party has struggled to find a candidate, so much so that it had to get a candidate from outside Maval during the 2014 election. Even today, it does not have strong leaders in the constituency. Sanjog Waghere, president of Pimpri-Chinchwad NCP, said he was an aspirant from Maval. “So far, I am the only candidate aspiring from Maval,” he added.
Not just Parth, but his father, who plays a key role in picking candidates, had declared his intention to contest from Shirur seat that has become a bastion of the Shiv Sena for the past 15 years. However, Sharad Pawar had dismissed the idea.
“It is true that the NCP was planning to grab the Maval seat and Parth looked like the ideal choice. But since our party chief is against the idea, his word is final,” said NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik. When asked about the reason behind Pawar’s decision, Malik added, “It could be because our party chief is contesting from Madha, and Supriya Sule is contesting from Baramati…”
Another state NCP leader said they will make efforts to persuade Sharad Pawar to review his decision. “Earlier, he had said he will not contest Lok Sabha election. And now after a few years, he has changed his stance and is ready to contest. Pawar sahib is flexible. He listens to party workers. We are sure he will change his stand and allow at least Parth to contest the election,” added the NCP leader.