Grand nephews vie for former CM’s legacy in Maharashtra’s Pusad
NCP’s Indraneel Naik and BJP’s Nilay Naik are grand nephews of Vasantrao Naik — the longest-serving CM of Maharashtra.Updated: Oct 21, 2019 18:35 IST
Two members from the family of Maharashtra’s longest-serving chief minister Vasantrao Naik of the Indian National Congress — both from opposing parties, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) — will contest the upcoming assembly elections in Maharashtra slated on October 21.
Indraneel Naik, 37, from NCP and Nilay Naik, 56, of the BJP are grand nephews of Vasantrao Naik, who served as Maharashtra chief minister from 1963 to 1975. While Indraneel is the son of former minister Manohar Naik, Vasantrao’s nephew, Nilay is the son of Madhukar Naik, another nephew of Vasantrao, who remained aloof from politics. He is also the elder brother of Manohar, who was a minister in successive Congress-NCP governments between 1999-2014.
Vasantrao’s own sons are not in politics. The fight between the two cousins is likely to decide who will take forward the legacy of the Naik family from Pusad constituency in Yavatmal district of western Vidarbha. The family is from the Banjara community, a scheduled tribe, which has a significant presence in Yavatmal.
The Naik family has not lost the Pusad seat since 1952, when Vasantrao contested elections for the very first time. Vasantrao is considered as father of green revolution in Maharashtra, who also gave a boost to industrial development in his tenure. He is one of the few CMs who returned to power after completing a five-year term.
The BJP is keen to ensure a win in this NCP-Congress bastion. It has got the constituency in the seat sharing arrangement with Shiv Sena. On October 14, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis campaigned in Pusad, asking people to support Nilay.
Nilay’s last attempt to defeat uncle Manohar failed in 2009 when he contested the assembly polls as an independent against him. He could get only 14,486 votes against 77,136 votes polled for Manohar, following which he returned to the NCP. He joined the BJP in 2016.
The four-term Pusad MLA Manohar Naik is now 77 and is hoping that his son Indraneel will carry forward the legacy.
“My uncle (Manohar Naik) has helped the development of his sons. Despite being a minister, he did nothing in the last so many years. People here are still struggling to get basic amenities such as water. No new industry came up so that youths won’t have to go out of the district looking for jobs. Even our grandfather (Vasantrao Naik) would be upset with him (Manohar Naik),” Nilay said at a campaign rally recently.
Indraneel has been a campaign manager for his father, Manohar, since 2004.
Indraneel, a law graduate who is making debut in electoral politics, countered the charge. “I didn’t ask for the candidature. This is not my decision but of the entire family. When my father (Manohar Naik) asked me about contesting from the assembly polls, my reply was whatever comes to me I will accept it. If you want me to help Nilay bhaiya, I am ready even for that.”
“The community considers Manohar Naik like a god as he is very generous and always helps those who are in need,” said Akhilesh Agrawal, a journalist working with a Marathi daily.
Much work needs to be done in the constituency, which lacks amenities like water and good roads. Both sugar mills in this region have wound up. Of its two spinning mills, one shut down and other has reduced its shifts, leading to joblessness.