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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Pawar saheb wanted to join hands with BJP several times, but backed out, says Ajit

The ongoing election is crucial for Ajit personally and politically as he is single-handedly leading the NCP after effecting a coup in the party. His wife, Sunetra Pawar, has been fielded from the family stronghold of Baramati.
Last Updated : 30 April 2024, 23:01 IST
Last Updated : 30 April 2024, 23:01 IST

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A politician with excellent organisational capabilities and command over bureaucracy, Ajit Pawar learned his first lessons in politics from his uncle and NCP veteran Sharad Pawar. Fondly called Dada, the 65-year-old is a five-time deputy CM and one of the senior-most ministers in the current Maharashtra cabinet.

The ongoing election is crucial for Ajit personally and politically as he is single-handedly leading the NCP after effecting a coup in the party. His wife, Sunetra Pawar, has been fielded from the family stronghold of Baramati. Pawar talks to DH’s Mrityunjay Bose in an interview on the sidelines of electioneering in Baramati. Following are the excerpts. 

The voters of Baramati seem to be divided over who to support — Sunetra Pawar or Supriya Sule. All these years, they had to choose only one Pawar, but this time they have to make a choice. 

This election is clearly about development. It is an election between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who has been opposing him. We have the track record of both of them in front of us. When Mamomhan Singh was heading the UPA government, Rahul Gandhi could have and should have become a minister and gained some experience. Before Indira Gandhi became the PM, she was part of the Cabinet of Lal Bahadur Shastri. This election is not about Sunetra Pawar vs Supriya Sule but about whom to hand over the reins of the country for the next five years. 

The Baramati Model is well known. What went wrong leading to the split?

Let’s be very clear. We are for development. We have to align with the national policies of development. Our Lok Sabha member (Supriya Sule) had been attacking BJP and Modi ji. We have seen how the work in Baramati was affected when we were not in power. Now it’s going on full steam. For development of Baramati, we need constant access to funds of the Centre and the state. People are aware of who did what in Baramati. You have to give credit to Modi for how he is leading India. 

But have you not been accused of joining hands with the BJP when the party was opposing Modi?

Who supported the BJP first? Sharad Pawar Saheb had initiated talks with the BJP several times, sometimes he told us, sometimes we were kept in the dark. In 2014, when results of the Vidhan Sabha elections were coming out, we saw on the TV that NCP extended outside support to the BJP, after which Devendra Fadnavis formed the government. Later, Saheb said it was a plan to keep the Shiv Sena away from the BJP.  In 2017, discussions were held with the BJP but he backed out. We all know what happened in 2019. Devendra Fadnavis and I formed the government and it was brought down by people whom you all know. In 2022, talks were initiated again but the same thing happened. Saheb once told me that Praful Patel and Jayant Patil were asked to hold talks with the BJP. 

Don’t you aspire to become the CM?

Let’s be clear and frank. The person who commands the magic figure of 145 (in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly) becomes the chief minister. We must admire the daring of Shinde when he came out of the Maha Vikas Aghadi with a large chunk of MLAs and MPs and joined hands with the BJP. We came in around a year later. We joined the BJP-led NDA in the interests of Maharashtra.

Didn’t the NCP miss the CM post in 2004?

The Congress and NCP had fought the elections together and got 69 seats and 71 seats, respectively. However, in exchange for a few portfolios, the CM post was given to the Congress. It’s not about me. If the NCP had gotten the CM post, we would have gone far ahead. 

What do you say about the criticism about fielding your wife from Baramati?

The NCP decided to field her. She has been working in the social sector for several decades. She is running the Environmental Forum of India, which is inculcating the concept of eco-villages. She also works to encourage organic farming and is a trustee of the Vidya Pratisthan which we built. Many women are working in the Baramati Hitech Textile Park which she is spearheading. All NCP candidates have been decided on the basis of elective merit. 

When it is all about Pawars, why the narrative of Narendra Modi vs Rahul Gandhi?

Modi is set to become the PM for the third time. What we are telling people is that if you have an MP from Baramati who supports him and his ideas, it would be beneficial for the people of Baramati.

There have been allegations vis-a-vis the irrigation scam and cooperative bank scam?

These are absolute lies. I have worked with all those people who are making these allegations. When I am with them they don’t make allegations. When I am not with them, they start making these allegations.

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Published 30 April 2024, 23:01 IST

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