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Rohit Pawar Interview: 'Ajit Pawar's Camp Intimidating Supriya Sule's Voters'

On 'Badi Badi Baatein', NCPSP leader Rohit Pawar explains why Baramati will vote for his aunt & MP Supriya Sule.

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Video Editor :Purnendu Pritam

"It's not about the other candidate being a family member. It's about the ideology and we are fighting against the ideology of the BJP. Therefore, we are fighting with all our might. Supriya tai will win for sure. We would surely feel for the family but we will celebrate because we would have defeated the BJP," said Nationalist Congress Party - Sharadchandra Pawar (NCP-SP) leader and MLA Rohit Pawar.

Following the footsteps of his granduncle and veteran politician Sharad Pawar, Rohit is fierce, calculative, and direct. Currently, he is one of the most prominent faces of the party and his aunt Supriya Sule's campaign in Baramati - the ancestral turf of the Pawars which they have represented for close to six decades.

The Baramati Lok Sabha has previously been represented by Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar, and now Supriya Sule. But following the split in the NCP last year, a new Pawar has entered the fray to challenge Sule - Ajit Pawar's wife Sunetra.

In the 'tai vs vahini' battle, the loyal Pawar voters of Baramati, too, are split vertically. But Rohit Pawar is confident that their home turf will repose faith in Sule for the fourth consecutive time.

On 'Badi Badi Baatein', we caught up with Rohit Pawar on a campaign trail for Sule to discuss the confusion in voters, sympathy for Sharad Pawar, and alleged pressure tactics by Aji Pawar's supporters.
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What is the biggest issue for Maharashtra and Baramati in this election?

Talking about Baramati - here, under the leadership of Sharad Pawar, Supriya tai shall surely win. But this is not just about Baramati, it's rather about an ideology. People are not liking the kind of politics which thye BJP and its allies have resorted to. If you talk about Maharashtra, then technically, the state has seen no development. The farmers are going through a lot of issues, the unemployment rate has gone far up, and the safety and security of women has deteriorated further. Therefore the people have turned against the BJP. Hence, in Maharashtra, Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), which is a part of the INDIA block and is up against BJP in the state, will win at least 35 out of 48 seats.

Supriya Sule's election campaign is underway. Somewhere, the voters feel that politics got in the way of family. Who do you think is responsible?

The BJP is responsible for that. The BJP broke the family and the party, and not just one party but two parties. People did not like this. In India, we are culturally very personal - families are very important for us. If someone breaks a family for politics and power, like the BJP has done to our family in Maharashtra, people do not like that. This is why people in Maharashtra are campaigning against the BJP.

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The Shiv Sena (UBT) is contesting the highest number of seats in the MVA. Do you think the sympathy that people feel due to the split of Shiv Sena and NCP will make them favour the MVA?

The seat sharing-sharing discussions among the leaders of MVA were carried out in a democratic way - who is stronger in which constituency, where can we win MLA seats in future, etc. Based on such permutations and combinations, our party has taken 10 seats, Shiv Sena has taken 21 seats and the remaining 15-16 seats were taken by the Congress. The decision was taken after proper discussions and calculations. That's why it took some time to coordinate, but that discussion was very important and positive. There was a mutual agreement among the local party workers of all the parties, and this will surely benefit us in this election.

Do you think that the sentiments for Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar will bring more voters to the booths?

The sentiment is an issue but the way this government has functioned - the farmers, the youth, the students, the women, people living in cities, the middle class - all are angry with the BJP today. Hence, sympathy is one angle but the anger, the rise in their personal expenditures, the prices of petrol, diesel, gas, are very much the issues. If you built a house in 2014, constructing a small room would cost you around Rs 6-7 lakhs. But if you want to construct a house of a similar kind today, then the expenditure will be at least Rs18 lakhs. So, this increase in expenditure has made people understand that elections are not only about the wave, it is rather about the work that you do in a particular area and the BJP has fallen far short. Therefore, the situation is against the BJP and this will surely benefit the MVA.

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As you have said that there is a split in the family. A similar split can be seen among the voters regarding who to vote for in the Pawar family. What do you think will be the effect of this factor in Baramati?

See, people are really clever. Not all people are ready to fight. So, when a media person covers this scenario, and videos spread quickly among the citizens, the workers of Ajit dada's party create a different kind of a pressure on them. Many people are directly talking about Sharad Pawar and Supriya tai without fear. But the people who are talking in favour of Ajit Dada, won't necessarily vote in favour of him. I think they are playing safe.

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In your speeches you say that a gang is operating in Baramati. Do you think any pressure tactics are bieng used to gain voting in favor of Ajit Pawar?

These are two-three types of gangs. First there are those gang who are in villages or rural areas. The contractors who were given jobs, who have money, cars, bungalows. Second is the one which works in the cities, the criminal-minded people who are calling voters and threatening them into campaigning for Ajit dada instead of Supriya tai. This gang says that if you want to stay in my area, you will not be able to campaign for Supriya tai. These gangs are usually seen in the city area.

Voters of Baramati see a rift in the family. Do you think there is a possibility in the future that the two groups come back together?

Only Sharad Pawar saheb can comment on that. For now, the idea is to win the election against the BJP and make our ideology win.

You are talking about winning the election. In all these years, the NCP and Mr Sharad Pawar are contesting the Lok Sabha elections on such low number of seats in Maharashtra (10). what has been the strategy behind coming to this figure?

Perhaps in future, we will contest in more number of seats in the Assembly elections.

If Supriya tai wins Baramati, do you think it will be a bitter-sweet victory? Because on the other side, the opponent is your family member.

It's not about the other candidate being a family member. It's about the ideology and we are fighting against the ideology of the BJP. Therefore, we are fighting with all our might. Supriya tai will win for sure. We would surely feel for the family but we will celebrate because we would have defeated the BJP.

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The BJP has been the most stable party in Maharashtra over the years. People are leaving Congress, there is a split in the NCP and Shiv Sena. Do you think that this stablity factor that BJP promotes will have an effect on this election?

See, this splits have been engineered by the BJP. They do have enough workers or leaders. They have to import. A ship which has the capacity of 100 people but it carries 200 is bound to sink in the future. The BJP's ship will sink. So, in the upcoming years we will see new faces and new leaders.

Are you confident that INDIA bloc will be able to tackle that the election machinery that the NDA has - the finances and the resources?

See, people are angry. The NDA has a huge amount of money. It is said that they will spend at least 50 crore for each MP seat. Now, if that is true, where did they get this money from? That is the big question. Also, so many institutions are under their control using which they threaten leaders, that's a big factor as well. They definitely have the machinery but the biggest power of democracy is the people. We have that. Lets see if the power of democracy wins or the power of money and dictatorship wins.

(On ground collaboration: Dnyaneshwar Rayate)

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