Lok Sabha Elections 2024 |Sunetra Pawar Eyes Baramati's Tourism Potential, Job Creation as MP Goals

Making her political debut by contesting from Baramati, the stronghold of her uncle Sharad Pawar, Sunetra Pawar says it was her "duty" to support husband Ajit Pawar after he broke away from the NCP

Photo via Team Sunetra Pawar
Sunetra Pawar, NCP Ajit Pawar faction candidate is representing the Mahayuti alliance backed by BJP and Shiv Sena Shinde faction, interacting with locals in Baramati Photo via Team Sunetra Pawar

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate from Baramati, Sunetra Pawar, speaks to Shweta Desai

You’ve been active in the social field and have implemented several educational, environmental, and healthcare projects for women and the youth in Baramati. Has the transition into politics been difficult or easy as you are contesting your first election?

Till now, my work has been on the ground, mainly in Baramati with the people. Now, I have to interact on a different level with multiple sections of people in the state and in Delhi.

Did you aspire to enter politics?

Not even in my dreams. I never thought about entering politics as many people from our family were already in the field. But I come from a highly political and social family―both from my parent’s and in-laws side. So this is not new for me. But after Ajit Pawar took the stand (of breaking the NCP and joining ruling alliance), I felt it was important for me to support him.

As a husband and partner?

Yes, but I also needed to take a position―on whose side I was standing and I chose him. Till now, as a wife, I have been with him. It became my responsibility when party members felt that I was a suitable candidate. I have the required experience. So I decided to go ahead.

Were you in two minds?

There was no plan earlier, but since the opportunity came, I said yes. I wanted to stay with Ajit Pawar; wherever the road leads us (smiling).

Earlier, you used to campaign for Supriya Sule, who is now your opponent. But now you will be seeking votes for yourself.

People know me; they know Ajit Pawar; and, they know our work. Baramati is my region and the people have seen me at work; I have interacted with many of them. I don’t need to introduce myself or criticise anyone to seek votes.

Will there be confusion on the ground due to two NCP factions and different election symbols, candidates?

It could be. People in Baramati recognise the clock symbol very well. So I don’t see that as a problem for me.

What do you plan to do as a Member of Parliament?

The Baramati Lok Sabha constituency is developed one, but comparatively, it is still lagging behind in terms of employment and income. The region is rich in history and has rivers, dams and several culturally important sites and forts from Shivaji Maharaj’s era. Raireshwar Temple, where Shivaji took oath to establish the Swaraj rule, is in shambles. There is tremendous scope to develop tourism with a special focus on agro tourism and fort tourism. There is also a plan to create an airport in Purandar taluka in Pune district. If it happens, it will generate a number of jobs. Similarly, I would like to explore if the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) can be set up around the Mulshi, Velhe and Bhor talukas.

A large part of Baramati constituency falls under rain shadow and is perennially water-starved. Do you plan to focus on addressing these issues?

Many projects for water supply for agriculture use are currently underway at the state level. In many villages, there’s also a shortage of drinking water. This summer has been unusually hard for the villagers due to persistent drought conditions. In another year or two, once the proposed projects are completed, the water crisis will be resolved.

Since the political split, how are your family relations with Sharad Pawar and Supriya Sule?

This is clear that we have split so there is no question of mingling as a family or having dinner together. Our ways are different at present. But our family relations have been there and will continue in the future, even if we speak or don’t speak.

The Economic Offences Wing has dropped charges in the Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank Association scam on sugar mill auctions.

The charges were flimsy. The investigation did not find any evidence against me, because there was no wrongdoing.