BJP plans Pawar attack where it hurts the most; cuts excess water supply to Baramati
Decision to divert additional water going to Baramati- bastion of Pawars, to neighbouring Satara and Solapur districts, is yet another attempt in the series of moves by the BJP governmentUpdated: Jun 14, 2019 15:14 IST
After decimating Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in electoral politics, and tearing apart Pawar’s empire built on cooperatives and irrigation, Devendra Fadnavis-lead Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government now is assiduously working to demolish his political foundation – Baramati.
The latest decision to divert additional water going to Baramati- bastion of Pawars, to neighbouring Satara and Solapur districts, is yet another attempt in the series of moves by the BJP government.
While the previous decisions have cost Pawars dearly in politics, Wednesday’s order from state irrigation department will, however, pinch him at a personal level as the first family of NCP, has for years, retained its strong grip over Baramati through various sops.
For four decades, Sharad Pawar represented Baramati, which now is being represented by his daughter Supriya Sule in the Lok Sabha and by nephew Ajit Pawar in the state assembly.
In its order, the Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation, an arm of the irrigation department, said that the water from right canal of Nira-Deoghar dam will be released to drought-affected areas. This move will adversely affect the supply of additional water going to Baramati through the left canal.
According to officials from irrigation department, for years Baramati received water which was meant for neighbouring regions. The BJP government has undone this after newly-elected party member of Parliament (MP) from Madha Ranjitsinh Naik-Nimbalkar held a meeting with officials and asked for the water to be diverted in the right canal.
“We have not diverted Baramati’s water. It is our water and since the last 12 years it was illegally provided to Baramati,” said Naik-Nimbalkar.
The BJP’s move is crucial, given that assembly elections are just five months away and any more drubbing of the NCP, who lost poorly during the Lok Sabha polls, may raise question marks on its survival, feel observers.
NCP leader and former irrigation minister Sunil Tatkare said, “During his or the then irrigation minister Ajit Pawar’s tenure, both tried to distribute water to all parts of the state without involving politics. It is beyond my comprehension as to why is politics being involved in this issue.”
Udayanraje Bhosale, Nationalist Congress Party MP from Satara said water meant for parts of Satara was diverted to Baramati by some. “Some people for their political benefit diverted water from Satara’s quota to Baramati,” he said.
Political observers, however, feel that this is being done to further cut down the Pawars’ base.
“It’s clear the Devendra Fadnavis government is systematically cutting down the support base of Pawars – be it cooperatives, caste or water - that helped Maratha strongman for years to retain his base, whether in power or in opposition,” said Chitra Lele, professor, political science, Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University (SNDT).
Founded 20 years ago by Sharad Pawar, NCP’s base was largely in western Maharashtra where the party used cooperatives as a tool with Marathas backing. The government’s largesse to the Marathas– 16 per cent reservation to the community – was yet another blow to the NCP as seen during Lok Sabha polls when the community shifted its loyalty towards BJP.
If this wasn’t enough, BJP engineered defections in the NCP and Congress, just before elections, and inducted some stalwarts including Ranjitsinh Mohite-Patil. This has resulted in BJP gaining ground in cooperatives, with five out of six MPs having direct links to sugar factories, now with the BJP.
Earlier in 2016, the Fadnavis government amended Maharashtra Cooperatives Societies Act facilitating appointment of independent experts rather than NCP-Congress men. The act hurt the NCP and the Congress both as most of their leaders were either members or chairmen on various cooperative societies including district central cooperative banks.
First Published: Jun 14, 2019 14:42 IST