Pawar bows out of LS race, family’s third-gen to join fray

Pune: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar on Monday decided to opt out of the Lok Sabha polls and the party is now likely to nominate his grand-nephew Parth Pawar from Maharashtra’s Maval constituency.

A B.Com graduate, Parth, 28, is the son of former state Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, the nephew of Pawar.

The decisions were announced by the NCP chief after a meeting of the party executive in Baramati to discuss and finalise the alliances and candidates for the Lok Sabha elections.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) jumped at the announcement with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis hinting that Pawar took the decision to quit the Lok Sabha race for fear of getting vanquished at the hustings.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already said that ‘Pawar has the knack to sense the wind directions’ and now he has gauged the wind directions,” he said.

In the past few weeks, the BJP has claimed that it will win 45 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state, including Baramati, the traditional fortress of the Pawar clan. the seat is currently held by the NCP chief’s daughter Supriya Sule.

However, Pawar made it clear that he was not withdrawing from the race in apprehension of a defeat. “I have already contested successfully 14 elections in a row. Do you feel a 15th poll will unnerve me?” he countered.

Nevertheless, he said that there was pressure from the party for him to stand for the election, but the NCP had not yet declared his candidature as he had not made up his mind.

He also pointed out that many in the party have been suggesting Parth’s name for Maval constituency and the party leadership would take a final decision in the matter.

“We discussed the matter within our family also and it was decided that instead of me contesting, an opportunity should be given to the younger generation,” Pawar added.

Meanwhile, fresh speculation mounted whether the sitting NCP MP from Madha, Vijaysingh Mohite-Patil, will be retained as the party candidate.