Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Pawars vs Vikhe-Patils play out in Ahmednagar

Lanke, who comes from a humble farmer’s family, was an MLA from Parner and had shifted loyalties to Ajit Pawar-led NCP, however, ahead of elections, he resigned and came to the fold of Sharad Pawar and was rewarded with the ticket.
Last Updated : 11 May 2024, 03:00 IST
Last Updated : 11 May 2024, 03:00 IST

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Ahmednagar The decades-old rivalry between the influential Vikhe-Patil and Pawar families seems to be playing out in a big way in Ahmednagar - the biggest district of Maharashtra - which is known for its cooperative sector.

The contest in the Lok Sabha seat of Ahmednagar involves Dr Sujay Vikhe-Patil (42), a neurosurgeon-turned-politician, who is the sitting BJP MP and Nilesh Lanke (45), who has been fielded by Sharad Pawar-led NCP (SP).

Lanke, who comes from a humble farmer’s family, was an MLA from Parner and had shifted loyalties to Ajit Pawar-led NCP, however, ahead of elections, he resigned and came to the fold of Sharad Pawar and was rewarded with the ticket.

On the other hand, Dr Sujay Vikhe-Patil is son of Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, grandson of Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil and great-grandson of Vithalrao Vikhe-Patil.

The Vikhe-Patils are one of the prominent political families synonymous with Ahmednagar.

Vithalrao Vikhe-Patil was the founder of the first sugar factory in the cooperative sector in Loni.

Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil is a seven-time MP from Kopargaon and once from Ahmednagar after delimitation. He had been part of Congress and Shiv Sena and was the Minister of State for Finance in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil is a seven-time MLA from Shirdi and has been associated with Shiv Sena, Congress and BJP at different points of time. A former Leader of the Opposition in Assembly while in Congress, he is currently the Revenue Minister in the Eknath Shinde-led Maha Yuti government.

“Its a very tough seat. Dr Sujay Vikhe-Patil and his father had to put up all their might to take on a first-time MLA. Never ever before the Vikhe-Patils have faced such a challenge. In the 2019 polls, Dr Sujay Vikhe-Patil had defeated Sangram Jagtap of the NCP by a huge margin but this time it is not an easy sailing,” a senior politician from Ahmednagar said.

The six Vidhan Sabha segments are Shevgaon, Rahuri, Parner, Ahmednagar City, Shrigonda and Karjat-Jamkhed.

“While Parner is vacant because of Lanke’s resignation, the BJP and NCP (SP) control two seats each and Ajit Pawar-led NCP one. In fact, Sharad Pawar’s grand-nephew Rohit Pawar, who refused to side with Ajit Pawar, represents Karjat-Jamkhed,” political observers said.

Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and his father late Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil never got along well with Sharad Pawar. While in Congress, Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil had his own ambitions and never accepted the leadership of Sharad Pawar.

Another sugar baron in the region, Balasaheb Thorat, who is the Congress Legislature Party leader and eight-time MLA from Sangamner is working with Sharad Pawar in helping out Lanke.

The BJP too faces issues internally. BJP MLC Prof Ram Shinde, who was defeated by Rohit Pawar, was keen to contest the seat, however, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis intervened and sorted out the issue.

According to local politicians, Lanke is expecting to cash on to use the discontent against BJP and Vikhe-Patil on issues such as farmers distress, onion export ban, lack of adequate price for milk, Centre’s policies on sugar and so on.

Ahead of the declaration of the general elections, the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis-Ajit Pawar government announced that the Ahmednagar district would be renamed as AhilyaNagar after the legendary Holkar queen Ahilyabai Holkar, one of the most influential figures in Indian history.

Ahilyabai Holkar (31 May, 1725 – 13 August, 1795) was a pioneer and involved in several social causes and helped build hundreds of temples and dharamshalas throughout India. She was born Chaundi in Ahmednagar district to a Dhangar family and was married to Khanderao Holkar of the Holkar dynasty.

After the demise of her husband Khanderao Holkar and father-in-law Malhar Rao Holkar, Ahilyabai Holkar herself undertook the affairs of the Holkar dynasty. She defended the Malwa state against intruders and personally led armies into battle. The decision of renaming of the district would have a sentimental impact.

Published 11 May 2024, 03:00 IST

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