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Arrival of generation next alters dynamics of Maharashtra’s Pawar family

The buzz in the NCP is that Sharad Pawar is handholding Rohit Pawar much in the way he mentored nephew Ajit more than two decades ago.

mumbai Updated: Jun 16, 2019 11:02 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Maharashtra,Sharad Pawar,Ajit Pawar
A member of the Pune zilla parishad, Rohit is a good orator, fluent in Marathi and comfortable dealing with party cadre.(HT Photo)

One scion of Maharashtra’s influential Pawar family tried his luck in the just-gone-by Lok Sabha elections. Another scion is limbering up to try his in the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly polls in October.

Other than their powerful surname and political legacy, the two Pawar scions have little in common. One is the 29-year-old son of Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar; the other is the 33-year-old grandson of Sharad Pawar’s elder brother Dinkarrao Pawar.

London-educated Parth Pawar recently burnt his fingers at the hustings, having contested from Maval constituency in western Maharashtra. He is more comfortable in English than his mother tongue, and was widely trolled for electioneering in his halting Marathi. He also has the dubious distinction of being the only Pawar – among granduncle Sharad, father Ajit and aunt Supriya Sule – to have lost an election in Maharashtra.

Mumbai-educated Rohit Pawar began his electoral innings with the local self-government polls in 2017.

A member of the Pune zilla parishad, Rohit is a good orator, fluent in Marathi and comfortable dealing with party cadre. He is now said to be prepping to jump into the Assembly poll fray from either Hadapsar or Jamkhed, both saffron strongholds. A graduate from Mumbai university, Rohit joined his family’s sugar and poultry business, Baramati Agro, after he turned 21. But since his induction into politics, he has been seen accompanying Sharad Pawar on his political tours across Maharashtra’s rural heartland.

The buzz in the NCP is that Sharad Pawar is handholding Rohit much in the way he mentored nephew Ajit more than two decades ago. In some ways then, Parth’s defeat in the Lok Sabha polls and Rohit’s scheduled debut in the Assembly polls point to the changing dynamics within the Pawar family.

“Parth’s defeat has put Ajit Pawar on the backfoot, also because [Sharad] Pawar saheb was not keen on it [contesting elections]. It was Ajit’s miscalculation that backfired... In this light, Sharad Pawar’s mentoring of Rohit means he is openly backing him to take a bigger role in the party. The lines seem to be drawn,” said a senior NCP leader, who did not wish to be named.

Although this leader said Parth was not actively associated with the party organisation, Parth did not agree.

“I am actively involved in party activities. My association with Maval was never limited to the election. Over five lakh people voted for me and it’s my responsibility to stay committed to them. At the end of the day, I am an NCP karyakarta and whatever the party decides for me, I will oblige,” Parth said.

Rohit said the final decision on whether he would contest would be taken by the party chief.

“If saheb (Sharad Pawar) asks me to contests polls, I am ready. If I am asked to hold back and work for the party organisation, I will do that. I admit our performance in the Lok Sabha polls has been disappointing but we will script a different story in the Assembly polls,” Rohit said.

According to Nitin Barmal, a Pune-based political analyst and associate professor at Dr Ambedkar Art & Commerce College, “There were major disagreements about Parth’s candidature in the Pawar family and his defeat does cast a shadow on what happens next. The NCP chief is indeed backing Rohit to take a bigger role in the party. Rohit will align with Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule. Some years back, it was expected that power would pass from Sharad Pawar to his political heir Ajit. Now it seems unlikely.”

First Published: Jun 16, 2019 08:52 IST

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