Maharashtra Polls: Bumpy ride ahead for Ajit Pawar in Baramati

Discontent seems to prevail at Baramati, with even villagers from Katewadi, NCP leader and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s native village, saying they will not vote for him this year

With a series of reports about the brewing discontent amongst citizens in Baramati tehsil, the state assembly elections might not be a smooth ride for former deputy chief minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar this time around. For, his constituents have certainly had a bumpy ride.

Ajit Pawar
The road just outside Ajit Pawar’s residence in Katewadi is smooth and well-maintained, unlike other roads in the constituency.

There are two parallel roads in Baramati — one leads to the Pawar family’s native village, Katewadi, and the other goes to the adjacent village, Dhekalwadi. While the road to Katewadi is in excellent condition, the state of the path to Dhekalwadi — which does not have a political godfather — is nothing short of pathetic. The stark difference in the condition of both the roads is an indication of the state of affairs across the tehsil.

Dhekalwad
Even though Dhekalwadi is adjacent to Pawar’s native village, Katewadi, the roads in both the villages are as different as they can be. This road, leading to Dhekalwadi, is dotted with uneven rocks, while the tar is not to be seen. Pics/ Shashank Sane

Long known as the Pawar family’s bastion, Baramati has faithfully elected the family (Sharad Pawar, Supriya Sule and Ajit Pawar) to power since 1967. However, the recent spate of reports suggests that the prevailing sentiment amongst villagers there is disappointment and frustration.

mid-day visited both Dhekalwadi and Katewadi yesterday to understand the reason behind the discontentment brewing in the area.

No development
Nana Sagule, one of the villagers in Dhekalwadi, said, “While Katewadi has a perfect tar road, along with electric bulbs, we have to search for the few remaining pieces of tar on the bumpy road in our village. Despite several requests in the past, nothing has changed.”

“My grandfather voted for the Pawar family, my father did the same and, until recently, I was continuing the same practice. But in return, despite our village being situated right next to theirs, they have not done anything for us. I am sure that in the upcoming election 90% voters in the village will vote against Ajit Pawar,” he added.

The Dhangar issue
It is worth noting at this point, that Dhekalwadi was recently in the news after Pawar’s wife, Sunetra was heckled by the villagers and forced to leave in the middle of a rally. They had asked her why the Pawars had done so little to help the village, and why the family did not support the Dhangar (shepherd) community in their demand for reservation.

“All the young voters in the village are totally against Pawar. Besides the issue of underdeveloped infrastructure, the NCP has not done anything for the upliftment of the Dhangar community. This is another reason why he is facing strong opposition from villages which have people from the community in majority,” said a villager from Dhekalwadi While Dhekalwadi had already begun to show signs of dissent earlier, shockingly, Pawar is now receiving criticism from his own village as well. Even his old associates have been turned off. Jagannath Devkate, who was the Sarpanch in Katewadi for ten consecutive years in the ‘80s, was once Pawar’s close aide. But this time, he is all set to vote against him.

“Ajit and I used to roam on my bike. In his tough times, my whole family had stood by him. But now he has become so rude, especially after he got the post of deputy CM, so much so, that he doesn’t even care about his own villagers. Practically speaking, he has not done anything for Katewadi either,” said Devkate. He added, “Though Pawar claims that he brought MIDC (Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation) to Baramati, hardly any local youth get jobs in any of the industries, as all companies recruit contractual labourers from other places.”

 

Niranjan Medhekar and Ajay Rupanavar

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