Politics runs in the Pawar family.
Affirming this popular belief is 32-year-old Rohit Pawar, grandson of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar’s elder brother Appasaheb and a member of the family’s fourth generation, who is contesting the zilla parishad elections from a constituency near Baramati.
Rohit, a highly educated man, is the chief executive officer of a private sugar factory near Baramati. Sources say fielding him from the Shirsufal-Gunwadi constituency in the Pune zilla parishad elections was a conscious decision on the part of the Pawar family. However, his entry into politics was a low-profile event.
The late Appasaheb is highly respected in Maharashtra for his contributions to the development of the farm sector. Rohit’s father, Rajendra, is also respected for work performed through the Baramati Krishi Vikas Pratishthan.
Sharad’s mother, Shardabai, was a member of the local board in the pre-Independence era. The NCP chief, who launched his political career by being elected as an MLA from Baramati in 1967, has been in politics for five decades now.
Others in his family – daughter Supriya Sule and nephew Ajit Pawar – have also found their calling in the profession.
At present, the Pawars are locked in a gritty battle to protect their traditional bastions of Baramati and Pune. The first indication of a decline in their hold over the two constituencies came in 2014, when Supriya Sule managed to retain the Baramati Lok Sabha seat with a relatively small margin of 70,000 votes. On the other hand, she had won the 2009 Lok Sabha elections with a margin of over three lakh votes.
In 2014 assembly elections, Ajit secured 28,000 less votes as compared to the 2009 polls.
Elections held to municipal councils over the last two months continued to show a similar trend. Anti-Pawar forces managed to win every municipal council election conducted in the vicinity of Baramati, including Daund, Indapur, Saswad and Shirur. In the Baramati municipal council, the ruling BJP managed to win four seats for the very first time.
The Pawar family is now struggling to retain its hold over the Pune Municipal Corporation, the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation and the Pune Zilla Parishad. Several NCP leaders in Pune have joined the BJP over the last few months, making survival seem even more difficult for the family.
Now, it remains to be seen whether Rohit can reverse the dipping fortunes of the Pawar family.