It is difficult to tell whether it was to harm or help his uncle Sharad Pawar and his cousin Supriya Sule who is contesting from Baramati that Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar made an appalling statement a day before the elections there. Given the reactions, we must conclude that he did great harm. He threatened farmers with cutting off water supplies if they did not vote for Ms Sule.
This is just the sort of help she can do without, given that Baramati is synonymous with her father Union agriculture minister and NCP boss Sharad Pawar. Ajit Pawar’s threat is distasteful since farmers in Masalwadi village where he made it, have suffered grievously from droughts.
Ajit Pawar had earlier made headlines when he asked a tittering audience whether he should urinate into a dam to fill it. This kind of callousness does no credit to the Pawars who are the premier political family of Maharashtra. Oddly enough, neither Ms Sule nor Pawar senior have made any comment on the latest boorish remark from the deputy CM. Since 1967, Sharad Pawar has won a dozen elections from here, a result of the work he has done in the constituency.
Thanks to his interventions and political clout at the Centre, the constituency, which was once as barren as Kutch, is now a farming hotspot. It produces sugarcane, grapes, jawari, cotton and wheat. Grapes and sugar are exported from here. Apart from agriculture, the constituency is home to educational institutions and industries, ranging from steel processing to wine making. Then in the true tradition of India’s political families, Mr Pawar handed over the constituency to his daughter Supriya Sule in 2009. With this kind of a strong political backing and foundation, one would have thought the Ms Sule would be on a pretty strong wicket this time round, but it doesn’t seem so: Surveys have predicted the BJP and its partner, the Shiv Sena, are fast gaining ground in the state.
A purported video of the threat was also aired on television. If authenticated, the Election Commission must ask Ajit Pawar to explain his conduct and face strictures. Yes, the NCP, being a part of the UPA, will also probably have to share the burden of governance failures like price rise, jobless growth, etc, and that may also have some effect even in its strongholds like Baramati. But nothing, absolutely nothing, excuses such behaviour on the part of a leader. Many may conclude that the threat was necessary because Ms Sule has done little for her constituency. She ought to dispel this notion and the NCP should take steps to rein in Ajit Pawar.