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Wardha braces for sasur-bahu drama; Pooja Tadas to contest against father-in-law Ramdas Tadas

Updated on: 16 April,2024 04:48 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dipti Singh |

In a twist to a straightforward contest, local Pooja Tadas decides to run as an independent against her father-in-law Ramdas Tadas who is from the BJP

Wardha braces for sasur-bahu drama; Pooja Tadas to contest against father-in-law Ramdas Tadas

Independent candidate, Pooja Tadas, at her residence in Wardha; (left) BJP candidate Ramdas Tadas at a programme. Pics/Satej Shinde

In a surprising twist, what began as a straightforward electoral showdown between the NCP and BJP in the Wardha parliamentary constituency has now devolved into a familial feud, pitting father-in-law against daughter-in-law. Pooja Shendre Tadas, 32, the daughter-in-law of BJP candidate Ramdas Tadas, has decided to run independently.
Last week, a matter that had been whispered about in Wardha suddenly reverberated throughout the entire state when Pooja, on Thursday, publicly accused the Tadas family of harassment, assault, and torture. She also voiced concerns about threats to her own and her seventeen-month-old son’s safety. This shift from caste politics to personal dynamics injects a high-pitched family drama into the already heated battle for power and prestige.

The politics of Wardha
Since 1952, the Wardha constituency has seen political shifts, with Congress dominating for 38 years until 1989. Vasant Sathe led the party’s representation until then. In 1991, CPI broke Congress’s streak, followed by BJP’s Vijay Mudhe in 1996. Dutta Meghe reclaimed it for Congress in 1998, succeeded by Prabha Rau in 1999. BJP’s Ramdas Tadas has held the seat since 2014.

BJP’s candidate Ramdas Tadas meeting villagers in Wardha. Pics/Satej Shinde
BJP’s candidate Ramdas Tadas meeting villagers in Wardha. Pics/Satej Shinde

Once a Congress bastion
Famous for Mahatma Gandhi’s Sevagram Ashram, Wardha is buzzing with talks of Congress’s absence in this election, despite its historical dominance with 12 wins out of 17 elections. This time, two-time Congress MLA Amar Kale’s switch to NCP has stirred the political pot. Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis took a dig at the NCP-Congress alliance, aiming to erase Congress’s presence in Wardha, highlighting their electoral gains in recent assembly polls.

The caste politics and seat sharing
Kale, who belongs to Kunbi community, is a two-time legislator and NCP (SP) leader Anil Deshmukh’s nephew. He joined the party last month. Kale hopes to gain from the sizable Kunbi presence in the constituency. Meanwhile, Tadas belongs to the Teli community, which too has a sizable presence in the region. NCP had, over the years, left the seat for Congress. But this time NCP (SP) got the seat after giving up on its claim over the Bhandara-Gondia and Buldhana seats.

Wardha’s vote maths
Wardha, a rural parliamentary constituency, is known for its unpredictable politics. Spread across six assembly constituencies, it boasts an 86.76 per cent literacy rate. BJP’s Ramdas Tadas seeks a third consecutive win here, confident in his track record and BJP’s stronghold. Tadas secured significant victories in 2014 and 2019, dominating the polls against Congress candidates. On his prospects in the upcoming polls, Tadas claimed that he is confident of achieving a hat-trick of wins. He said, “We have done good work in the constituency and for its people. Besides five MLAs, in the district, the party is also ruling the zilla parishad, panchayat samiti, in nagar parishad too. We are in a stronger position due to the various schemes launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I do not see any problems in winning a third straight term.”

Pooja Tadas with her son at her residence
Pooja Tadas with her son at her residence

The Wardha culture
Wardha epitomises Marathi culture. It is renowned as Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘karmabhoomi’ of the freedom movement. With landmarks like Sevagram Ashram and a rich textile heritage, it’s a tourist hotspot. Despite its cultural richness, Wardha has seen limited development compared to the neighbouring districts.

The family feud
Pooja Shendre Tadas alleges a harrowing tale of deception and abuse, claiming, “My story is straight out of a crime reality series.” Accusing her husband, Pankaj Tadas, son of BJP candidate Ramdas Tadas, she asserts her candidacy for the Lok Sabha elections against her father-in-law. According to her account, she was coerced into marriage to protect her husband from a rape accusation. She endured abuse and neglect, yet remains determined in her pursuit of justice, seeking support from her father-in-law.

Pooja said, “I first met Pankaj in 2014... Later, when I became pregnant the first time, he gave me medications to abort, he then coerced me into signing marriage certificates... He referred to me as his mistress... Assaulted me with an iron rod.” She added, “The marriage ceremony was a sham, performed for the media. Despite my second pregnancy, he denied paternity and demanded a DNA test.”

Despite her readiness for a DNA test, Pooja expresses concerns over the potential misuse of influence. “I advocate for a transparent DNA test by an impartial agency,” she stated. Despite her father’s recent death, she remains resolute, aiming not only for her son’s rights but also for women facing similar hardships. The election is a platform, but her ultimate goal is justice, supported by her organisation, the Pooja Foundation.

Talking to the media on April 14, Pankaj said that this honey trap was to defame them. “I have enough proof to prove the woman is defaming us by making all this up, and this is a honey trap to defame me and my family. In the court, we have also demanded a DNA test. The matter is now in court and so we cannot comment any more,” Tadas said.

Ramdas, who is busy campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls, refuted all allegations, claiming no association with his son or daughter-in-law. He even said that he had disowned his son and daughter-in-law after all this and had no association. He dismissed the accusations as a ploy by opposition parties to tarnish his image, emphasising that the issue of his son’s marriage was old and being exploited for electoral purposes.

No of LS elections Cong has won in Wardha

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