Throwing an open challenge to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the BJP on Saturday said it will win the Baramati Lok Sabha seat, considered the pocket borough of NCP chief Sharad Pawar. Reacting strongly, the NCP said the BJP should announce its candidate first and then talk.
BJP chief Amit Shah and Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday addressed a review meeting of party workers of Pune, Baramati and Shirur Lok Sabha constituencies. Both the leaders were unanimous in announcing that the BJP would win the Baramati seat, though they differed on the number of Lok Sabha seats the party would win out of the 48 seats in Maharashtra.
Setting the target of bagging 45 seats in the state, Mr Shah said that Baramati should be one among them. “I want my party workers to win 45 seats from the state and to achieve that we will have to win the Baramati seat,” the BJP chief said.
Mr Fadnavis, on the other hand, said that the party would win 43 seats, one more than its 2014 tally and that additional seat would be Baramati. “We are ready to fight on all 48 seats with full strength and we would win 43 seats… the 43rd seat would be Baramati,” he said. The BJP was ready to fight the elections alone, Mr Fadnavis added.
Baramati is represented by Mr Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule. In the 2014 polls, Rashtriya Samaj Paksha leader Mahadev Jankar, an NDA ally, had lost from Baramati by a small margin. “Had the lotus symbol been there in the last polls, we would have won Baramati. This time we will not make that mistake. Our candidate will fight on the party symbol,” said Mr Fadnavis.
NCP spokesman Nawab Malik, however, said the BJP should announce its candidate for the seat and then talk about winning it. “Amit Shah and the chief minister should announce who the candidate for Baramati would be — Narendra Modi, Amit Shah or the CM?,” Mr Malik sarcastically said.
NCP leader Dhananjay Munde said that instead of worrying about Baramati, the BJP should be concerned about whether it will be able to retain its present seats in the state.