"Giving Funds, Press EVM Button, Otherwise...": Row Over Ajit Pawar Remark

The remark triggered a sharp response from the NCP faction led by party founder and veteran leader Sharad Pawar

'Giving Funds, Press EVM Button, Otherwise...': Row Over Ajit Pawar Remark

Ajit Pawar's wife Sunetra Pawar is contesting against his cousin Supriya Sule in Baramati


Ajit Pawar, the chief of Nationalist Congress Party, has courted controversy with his remarks during a campaign to bolster support for his wife and party candidate from Baramati, Sunetra Pawar. Addressing a political meeting at Indapur in Baramati, he said, "We are giving you funds for development, so press the EVM button more. Otherwise, we will have to hold our hand back."

The remark triggered a sharp response from the NCP faction led by party founder and veteran leader Sharad Pawar. Mahesh Tapase, spokesperson for the faction, said Ajit Pawar's remark is a violation of the model code of conduct. The Sharad Pawar faction has complained to the Election Commission and sought action.

Baramati, a stronghold of Sharad Pawar's family for decades, has turned into a battleground on which factionalism in the NCP and family rivalries are set to play out this election. The Sharad Pawar faction has fielded three-time MP and Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule. She is up against her cousin Ajit Pawar's wife Sunetra Pawar. This comes eight months after the junior Pawar parted ways with his uncle and joined the NDA government in Maharashtra with a bunch of MLAs.

Ajit Pawar is also at the centre of a row over his reference to Droupadi in a poll speech. Droupadi is a mythological character in Mahabharata, who is married to the five Pandava brothers.

At a gathering of doctors in Baramati's Indapur, Ajit Pawar was responding to complaints by gynaecologists about alleged harassment by state health authorities over prevention of pre-natal testing for determining the child's sex. Such testing is strictly prohibited to prevent female infanticide.

Speaking on the matter, Ajit Pawar said that even if there were instances of harassment, "illegal things" do happen at hospitals. "Such incidents should not happen. Male and female ratio in some districts is skewed, as bad as 850 females to 1000 males. Things will get difficult in future. One might have to think of Draupadi... such a situation may arise," he said. Realising that the remark may spark a row, he immediately clarified that he did not mean to hurt anyone's sentiments.