On home turf, Dhangars’ discontent may queer pitch for Ajit
Baramati (Maha): Known for his outspokenness, NCP leader Ajit Pawar evokes extreme reactions across the political spectrum of Maharashtra, but never lets go his firm hold over Baramati, the pocket borough of Pawars in the Pune district.
Often in news for the wrong reasons, be it the alleged irrigation scam, the infamous comment with reference to dry dams or the allegations of coercion of locals to vote for Supriya Sule in the Lok Sabha election, Ajit, the nephew of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, is seeking a sixth term to the Assembly on a little shaky home turf this time.
NCP supporters remain unruffled by the controversies and criticism dogging Ajit, fondly called `Dada’, and are confident that he would win hands down. But whispers in the constituency — where the opponents have accused the Pawars of intimidation — point to a distinct possibility of significantly reduced victory margin.
“The wind is blowing in a different direction. There are un-kept promises of infrastructure development and water supply projects in a region faced with erratic monsoon for the last five years. Dhangar population is angry with lukewarm response from Congress-NCP government to their demand of inclusion in the ST reservation category. This will have a bearing on the voting pattern and could prove detrimental to Ajit’s margin and favour BJP’s Balasaheb Gavde who belongs to the Dhangar community,” said a woman teacher in the area.