On the day it recorded its best electoral performance across India, the BJP still fell short of one of its stated goals— that of winning from the Pawar bastion of Baramati. NCP leader Supriya Sule not only managed to retain the Lok Sabha seat, she did so with a margin of over1.5 lakh votes.
Her victory margin, against BJP candidate Kanchan Kul, was almost double that of 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when she had won against Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP) chief Mahadeo Jankar by about 70,000 votes.
In the first few hours of counting, it was Kul who took the lead, and initially it looked like she could pull off one of the biggest upsets in the Lok Sabha elections by defeating Sule on the Pawar family turf. However, Sule soon blazed past her and in the subsequent rounds, consolidated her lead further, finally cementing her position as the winner.
While Sule was not present at the counting centre — the Food Corporation of India godown at Koregaon Park — to celebrate her victory with her supporters, she tweeted lines from a poem of Dasu Vaidya in the evening. “For tired father, daughter is comforting like coconut water. For a fighting daughter, father is a magnanimous inspirational story,” read her tweet.
Sule also thanked everyone who supported and expressed confidence in her and re-elected her to the Lok Sabha. “I am thankful that you have once again elected me to represent you in the Lok Sabha. I am confident that your wishes, cooperation and blessings will continue for me,” she said. The senior NCP leader said the entire parliamentary constituency of Baramati was her “family”. She said, “I have been working for the last 10 years on the development path shown by NCP chief Sharad Pawar and party leader Ajit Pawar. Let us continue to work with double the enthusiasm in the next five years.”
During the campaign, said Sule, “My family, NCP, Congress, alliance leaders, party workers, well-wishers and friends put in lot of hard work for me day and night. I thank all of them.”
She also made an appeal to put all the allegations and counter-allegations, made during the campaign, behind. “We should forget the strained relations developed during the election campaign. I appeal all of us to work together for the development of the parliamentary constituency.”
The Baramati seat was a prestige issue for both the NCP and the BJP. The seat had been won by Pawar for decades, before he made way for his daughter, and the BJP wanted to prove its strength in Maharashtra by winning it.
The party gave state minister Chandrakant Patil the responsibility of running the campaign in Baramati, and prominent leaders, including Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, campaigned in the various assembly segments in the parliamentary constituency.
During his rally in Baramati, BJP chief Amit Shah appealed to voters to end dynastic politics. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also held rallies in Maharashtra, during which he took potshots at Pawar and his “family feud”.
Pawar himself, as well as NCP leaders Ajit Pawar and Rohit Pawar, campaigned extensively for Sule.