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Wild, wild West

Updated on: 14 April,2024 05:15 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dharmendra Jore |

The golden sugar belt of Maharashtra plays a game of thrones—Sharad Pawar fortifies Madha with a turncoat

Wild, wild West

Sharad Pawar

Dharmendra JoreThe blue bloods of Western Maharashtra are at their fighting best again. Their previous generations either headed the princely states or served at the top of state’s military and administrative ladder. The golden sugar belt of Pune, Satara, Sangli, Solapur and Kolhapur, continues to bear the aura of yesteryears, and enjoys the game of thrones. Two royal seats of the Maratha empire, based in Satara and Kolhapur, are held by the descendants of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.  

However, it’s not the “kings” who call the shots. It’s the Pawars and Fadnavis who make decisive moves here. What started in Madha constituency a month ago with re-nomination of MP Ranjitsinh Naik Nimbalkar, will end in the departure of a member of the influential Mohite Patil family, Dhairyashil, who aspired to replace Ranjitsinh as BJP’s candidate. Dhairyashil is the nephew of former DCM Vijaysinh Mohite Patil, once a die-hard lieutenant of Sharad Pawar. 

Mohite Patil’s son Ranjitsinh and Dhairyashil joined the BJP for greener pastures, but the veteran, undivided NCP’s MP from Madha (2014-19), remained behind the curtains. With blessings from Sharad Pawar and some “royals” in Satara district, the nephew has come full circle. He will be NCP (SP)’s candidate from Madha. But it is not just defection. Its effects have already been seen in the ruling camp. BJP has Madha at stake and Ajit has the adjoining Baramati and Satara segments. 

Ajit’s associate Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar has pepped up Dhairyashil. That has upset the BJP, which had convinced its leaders to work for Ajit’s wife in Baramati. Expecting reciprocations, the ruling stakeholders foresee cascading effects. For BJP, Satara’s ‘royal’ Udayanraje Bhosale’s “my way or highway” attitude poses a challenge. Bhosale wants to contest from Satara, but Ajit hasn’t vacated the seat for the ally. 

In Kolhapur, the Congress nominee and Udayanraje’s relative Shahu Maharaja Bhosale has taken a lead in the campaign. Lagging behind till recently, Sharad Pawar has not only named all his nominees in the sugar belt, but in doing so, has dented the BJP and the estranged NCP faction before they took the battle ground that is so interconnected politically.

Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore

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