Pawar Family Saga: Supriva vs Sunetra Battle in Baramati Evokes Memories of Sharad Pawar’s 1960 Struggle – News18


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Ajit Pawar's wife Sunetra Pawar (Left ) and Supriya Sule (Right).

Ajit Pawar’s wife Sunetra Pawar (Left ) and Supriya Sule (Right).

In the 1960s, the Pawar family saw the first-ever confrontation between two Pawars – Sharad Pawar and his elder brother Vasantrao Pawar – in Baramati.

The Maha Picture

The Baramati constituency of Maharashtra is set to witness a high-voltage battle in the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections 2024 as two members of the Pawar family contest against each other. The seat will witness a showdown between Pawar family’s daughter-in-law Sunetra Pawar and daughter Supriya Sule. Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s wife Sunetra Pawar, who will be contesting her first-ever election this year, will take on NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule on their family turf. While it may seem like a battle between Supriya Sule and Sunetra Pawar, it reflects the feud between Sharad Pawar and Ajit Pawar.

But this isn’t the first time that two members of the Pawar clan have clashed in an election in the same constituency. In the 1960s, the Pawar family saw the first-ever confrontation between two Pawars – Sharad Pawar and his elder brother Vasantrao Pawar. After the death of Baramati MP Keshavrao Jedhe, bypolls were called on the seat, and Vasantrao contested from the Peasants & Workers Party, also known as PWP. This was when Sharad Pawar was a member and office-bearer of the Congress Party, serving as the secretary of Youth Congress in Pune city.

While Sharad Pawar wasn’t directly contesting the election, his elder brother was fighting against the Congress Party, making things challenging for the Pawar family. Sharad Pawar, then just 20 years old, was torn between supporting his brother and working for the Congress party’s candidate. This marked the beginning of a new chapter in Sharad Pawar’s political career, where he learned a lesson in generosity from his parents, especially his mother, who advised him to work for the Congress, despite herself being a supporter of the PWP.

In that election, Vasantrao was defeated, but it propelled Sharad Pawar’s political career as he was given a ticket for the assembly polls in 1967 from Baramati, which he won, marking his first victory in a state assembly election. These were the first polls held after the formation of the Marathi-speaking state.

Almost 64 years later, the Pawar family seems to facing a similar situation in Baramati, where two family members are contesting against each other. After the NCP (SP) declared Supriya Sule’s name for the Baramati constituency last week, the NCP, led by Ajit Pawar, promptly announced Sunetra Pawar’s candidacy from Baramati as part of the Mahayuti alliance. Rohit Pawar, grandson of Sharad Pawar, alleged that the BJP instigated this fight within the Pawar family on purpose. Meanwhile, in one of the rallies in Baramati, Ajit Pawar stated that there were attempts within the family to isolate him, but his “true family is the people of Baramati and his supporters.”

The choice between ‘Tai’ (Supriya Sule) and ‘Vahini’ (Sunetra Pawar) has become a ‘Dharma Yudhh’ for the people of Baramati. Many are said to be struggling to make up their minds as to whom to vote. Supriya has continued Sharad Pawar’s legacy of development, whereas Sunetra has upheld the Pawar legacy in social and educational fields, working to establish educational institutes like Vidya Pratishthan and leading major projects like a textile park.

The only difference between the 1960s and now is the vertical split in the family. Ajit, who was once a shadow of Sharad Pawar, is now standing against him. Since the defeat of Vasantrao Pawar in the 1960s bypolls, Sharad Pawar hasn’t faced any obstacles within the family. However, Ajit Pawar has found himself isolated within the family, with even his younger brother having distanced himself to join the Sharad Pawar camp. He had always supported Ajit Pawar and acted as a mediator after Ajit took oath as deputy Chief Minister in Devendra Fadnavis’ cabinet in 2019.

The current political strife surrounding the Baramati battle sharply contrasts with the era when Sharad Pawar grappled with his elder brother’s political ambitions. Whether the family will reunite in the future is a far-fetched question, but Ajit Pawar’s different stance, for which he is being criticised, is certainly not the first rebellion or battle within the Pawar family. After 64 years, a situation has arisen where the battleground remains the same, but the dynamics within the Pawar family have changed significantly.

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