NCP Pits Pawar Scion Against Seasoned BJP Leader in Karjat Jamkhed
Sharad Pawar's grandnephew is pitted against BJP leader and Water Conservation Minister Ram Shinde, the sitting MLA.
File photo of NCP chief Sharad Pawar. (Reuters)
Jamkhed: The choice of BJP stronghold of Karjat Jamkhed assembly segment, which is part of Ahmednagar Lok Sabha constituency, to launch Rohit Pawar, grandnephew of Sharad Pawar, in electoral politics seems to be a calculated gambit by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Rohit is pitted against BJP leader and Water Conservation Minister Ram Shinde, the sitting MLA. Ahmednagar Parliamentary seat had emerged as the bone of contention between Sharad Pawar and politically powerful Vikhe-Patil family from the district.
As Pawar refused to allot the Ahmednagar LS seat for the then Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil's son Sujay, the latter joined the BJP and won it.
During the polls, Sujay struggled to get desired lead of votes from the Karjat Jamkhed segment. The BJP is building its campaign against Rohit on the theme of local versus outsider.
Rohit, grandson of Sharad Pawar's elder brother Appasaheb Pawar, also admits that the fight is tough.
"The fact that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis addressed two rallies in this constituency and BJP chief Amit Shah going to hold a rally on October 19 indicates that the battle is tough for the BJP candidate," he told PTI.
The BJP has been winning the seat since the last 25 years.
In the 2014 assembly elections, Shinde had won with 84,058 votes. The candidate of the Shiv Sena, which had contested separately, bagged 46,242 votes. The NCP contestant was relegated to the third spot.
Rohit said he had reached out to voters and got the hang of issues as he had been visiting the constituency since the last six months.
"The constituency has been electing BJP candidates since 1995. However, the party has not done any development in the area," he said.
When asked about his victory prospects, Rohit admitted that the contest is tight.
"This seat is a stronghold of the BJP for 25 years. Shinde is MLA since the last ten years. He is also a minister in the state government," he said.
When asked about his choice of the constituency to make poll debut, Rohit said he was looking for an opportunity to work for the people.
"If a contest is easy then learning new things is not possible. I agree it is a difficult seat politically," he added.
When asked about the "outsider" tag, Rohit referred to state BJP president Chandrakant Patil's contest from Kothrud in Pune though the latter hails from Kolhapur.
"The chief minister should bring me and Chandrakant Patil on the same platform and talk about I being an outsider in Karjat Jamkhed," he added.
Rohit is raising issues like "shortage of water for drinking and agriculture; inadequate electricity supply; lack of employment; women empowerment through SHGs; lack of education and transport etc."
BJP candidate Shinde, meanwhile, exuded confidence that he would score a hat-trick.
"There is no anti-incumbency against me. My opponent is using money to lure voters. Over 50,000 people came with me when I filed my nomination papers for polls because they wanted to support me, the local candidate, against the imported one," he said. Shinde dismissed Rohit as a challenger.
"What is his contribution to this constituency? Rohit's ambition is to become the MLA because he has money, what about the common people?" he asked.
Shinde said he wanted to set up a textile factory, a sugarcane unit and the state industrial development corporation (MIDC) in the constituency.
A section in the local BJP feels that Shinde is on a weak wicket.
The elections to Maharashtra Assembly will be held on October 21, and counting of votes on October 24.
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