NCP chief Sharad Pawar announced Monday that he will not contest the Lok Sabha elections, saying two of his family are already in the fray and that he wanted to make way for a younger generation in electoral politics.
After meeting party leaders, Pawar said: “Senior party leaders had appealed to me to contest the Lok Sabha elections from the Madha seat. However, I discussed the issue in our family and decided that many members from one family should not contest the elections. My daughter Supriya Sule is already contesting the Lok Sabha election from Baramati. The intention is to give the youth an opportunity in electoral politics.”
According to Pawar, party leaders demanded that Parth Pawar, his grand-nephew, be given a ticket. He said Parth, who is also former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s son, will be his party’s candidate from the Maval Lok Sabha constituency.
Incidentally, his decision comes about a month after he said that he might consider contesting from the Madha constituency since many of his supporters wanted him to do so. “I had said that I would think about contesting the elections from Madha. However, my candidature had not been declared by the party so far. Meanwhile, there was a discussion in (my) family after demands from local party leaders, as well as our alliance partners, that Parth Pawar be made the candidate from Maval seat. We lost that seat twice (to Shiv Sena) and everyone in the party believes that this can be reversed if a younger generation leader is given the opportunity to contest,” said Pawar.
Pawar did not contest the LS polls in 2014 but was elected to the Rajya Sabha. Then, he had left the Madha seat, which he represented from 2009 to 2014, to party leader Vijaysinh Mohite Patil, who won. He earlier represented Baramati in Lok Sabha, which Supriya has contested in 2009.
Pawar also said he was not withdrawing from the fray in fear. “I have contested 14 elections and never lost. There was no reason for me to be scared of the 15th election,” he said.
For the NCP, Madha is not going to be easy, with or without Pawar. “There has been a lot of infighting within the party (in Madha), and the popularity of the party has also gone down in the last five years. It was precisely the reason that senior party leaders had urged Pawar to contest the seat so that we can retain it. However, it is clear that the situation is difficult,” said an NCP leader.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said: “It is a pointer to the growing popularity of the Prime Minister. Sharad Pawar can sense which way the wind is blowing.”
The BJP is yet to decide its candidate for this seat and there is speculation that the BJP will either urge RSP leader Mahadeo Jankar or former Swabhimani Paksha leader and current state minister Sadabhau Khot to contest the seat.