Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Pawars are no longer invincible in Baramati, says Chandrakant Patil
Chandrakant Pail, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and a cabinet colleague of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, interacted with Team HT. Following are the excerpts…
What is your view of the past (2014) and current election season for BJP?
In 2014, I was a party office-bearer. I focused more on Western Maharashtra — Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara — like I usually do during the assembly polls and we secured remarkable victory. This time, I am taking feedback of surveys every four days and I think that apart from Hatkanangle, the prospects of winning the other seats in Western Maharashtra are 52-48 (52% for BJP-Sena and 48 for Congress-NCP). In Hatkanangle, it is 42-58.
What about Satara and Madha?
In Satara, the total count of votes against Udayanraje Bhosale (sitting MP) in 2014, was 4,90,000. Narendra Patil (current Shiv Sena candidate) is a strong candidate. His father humanised the unorganised head-loaders. All the 1,50,000 head-loaders now back him. Also, there are people within NCP who wants to defeat Udayanraje.
Last time, the four seats that NCP won were all from Western Maharashtra
It won’t be the situation this time. Kolhapur is now a one-way contest and we are winning it. Congress leader Satej ‘Bunty’ Patil has openly supported the Shiv Sena candidate. Last year, Sangli was with us, so was Solapur. NCP had Madha, but even there, Sadabhau Khot had fallen by 12,000 votes and did not have the BJP symbol. In Satara, Republican Party of India (RPI) did not fight the seat seriously. In Baramati, the educated population did not come out in large numbers to vote because Mahadev Jankar did not enter the fray on our symbol.
NCP has started feeling the heat in Baramati for the first time. What is your ground-level assessment?
As of today, the situation in Baramati in neck and neck. Today, Supriya Sule is campaigning so are we, but our steps in the next few days are going to be big. We are targeting clusters of 1,000 and 500 votes. Some of them are pledging alliance, but not ready to go public. Some are joining us openly. Pawars have realised that they are no longer invincible in Baramati. We have been able to create that perception since 2014 onwards. This time we have put up a serious candidate unlike in the past and contesting polls with all efforts.
In Baramati, Congress does not seem to be in line with NCP. Does that help you?
Here (Baramati) NCP’s Sharad Pawar has always worked against Congress’ candidate and not just in Western Maharashtra. But still, Congress will get more seats than NCP. The intrinsic power of Congress is massive in Maharashtra. People remember Indira Gandhi. They do not remember Rahul Gandhi, but they remember his grandmother. That intrinsic power includes Dalits, Muslims, and even OBCs who have recently been dispersed a little, but it still includes Dhangar community. These alone can get 2,00,000-2,50,000 with a face like Ashok Chavan.
Was Girish Bapat pushed to Delhi despite being a minister?
No. Bapat was keen to contest Lok Sabha in 2014 itself. Somehow, the party could not give him a ticket.
Why is Madha so close to the CM? Why is Sharad Pawar and family targeted on a personal level?
In Madha, I jovially said to the CM that if he had given this much time in the past five years, it would have made a major difference. He has held various rallies and meetings in Madha in the past one month alone. We have to win it and we will do it this time. These stalwarts (Pawars) need more time anyway to come out of financial trouble. People know that the government will stand by them when the cooperative sector they are working in is in trouble. About attack on NCP, Congress in Maharashtra does not have much left. Pawar too is doing politics with a limited strength of four seats. So, if we further reduce NCP’s already limited presence in the state, opposition’s overall might, whatever restricted it is, will come to an end.
Are you planning to fight any of the elections?
I entered the ministerial position by accident. I have decided not to contest any election. This time, if the Shiv Sena alliance had not happened, maybe the topic would have come up and the party would have insisted me to contest.
On Shiv Sena-BJP relations.
It is true that we fought for four years, but now we have decided to be together. I hope that in the next government also we will work together as we have already sorted out contentious issues like distribution of seats.