NCP downplays suggestions on Parth’s name for vacant Pandharpur-Magalvedha Assembly seat

NCP chief, Ajit Pawar can only take a call, in consultation with other leaders: Rohit

With the recent death of Bharat Bhalke, the sitting Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA from Pandharpur-Magalvedha in Solapur, speculation is rife that Parth Pawar — Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s son and NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s grand-nephew — may be put forward as the party’s possible candidate in the by-election to be held in the near future.

A section of Parth’s supporters has even written to Mr. Sharad Pawar to recommend his name as a candidate on grounds that it would augur well for the development of the temple town of Pandharpur.

However, when questioned on Sunday regarding Parth’s possible ‘second chance’ in politics, NCP State president Jayant Patil, who is also the State Water Resources Minister, denied there were any such discussions within the party at the moment.

Earlier, Amarjeet Patil, a local NCP leader from Solapur, had written to the NCP chief, requesting that Parth be awarded the NCP candidacy for the now-vacant Pandharpur-Magalvedha Assembly seat.

“The by-election to Pandharpur-Mangalvedha must be decided on the basis of development and not on emotions. If Parth does became a legislator, he will aid in expediting pending development works in Pandharpur,” Mr. Patil’s letter read.

Mr. Patil and a section of the local NCP leadership apparently believe that Parth’s candidacy would not be opposed by Bharatiya Janata Party MLC Prashant Paricharak, an influential local leader from Pandharpur, thus paving the way for an easy win for Parth.

Mr. Paricharak is the nephew of the late Sudhakar Paricharak, who was a four-time legislator and the chief rival of the late Bhalke who had died in a Pune hospital in November while undergoing treatment for post-COVID-19 complications.

Bhalke, along with his political rival Sudhakar Paricharak, was an influential figure in the regional politics of Solapur and that of the temple town area of Pandharpur-Mangalvedha. Sudhakar Paricharak had passed away in August following COVID-19-related complications.

Meanwhile, Parth’s cousin, Rohit Pawar — another of Mr. Sharad Pawar’s grand-nephews and the current MLA from the Karjat-Jamkhed constituency in Ahmednagar — said that a decision on this [Parth’s proposed candidacy] could only be taken by the NCP chief and Mr. Ajit Pawar in consultation with other senior party leaders.

“Things don’t happen just because somebody writes a letter wishing something…while justice will surely be done to the people of Pandharpur by giving them a suitable candidate, a decision on this can only be taken by the top party brass,” said Mr. Rohit Pawar, who is often viewed as the more seasoned politician in contrast to his cousin.

In the 2019 Parliamentary polls, Parth, the political neophyte, became the only member of the Pawar clan to lose an election after suffering an ignominious rout in the battle for the Maval constituency. Despite the strenuous efforts of his father Mr. Ajit Pawar, who was believed to have lobbied hard first for Parth’s candidacy, and then pulled out all stops to campaign for his son’s victory, Parth was trounced by a humongous three-lakh vote margin by Shiv Sena MP Shrirang Barne.

Since then, Parth’s contrarian stance on a range of issues, including the Maratha quota, has embarrassed the NCP top brass, while triggering tremors of suspicion that all is not well within the Pawar family. In August, a vexed Mr. Sharad Pawar, in an uncharacteristic public admonishment of a family member, had slammed his grand-nephew’s contrarian stance in the Sushant Singh Rajput case, dismissing Parth as “immature”.

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