How Ajit Pawar aka "Dada" Rose In Maharashtra, Thanks To His Uncle

Ajit Pawar had resigned as the MLA from Maharashtra's Baramati in September this year after he was named in a money-laundering case by the Enforcement Directorate.

How Ajit Pawar aka 'Dada' Rose In Maharashtra, Thanks To His Uncle

Ajit Pawar, 60, was elected from Baramati for a sixth straight term in Maharashtra.

Ajit Anantrao Pawar or "Dada", as he is called by supporters, could well have made his name in Bollywood had he followed his father's footsteps. Instead, he chose his uncle, Sharad Pawar's path professionally. Today, he is an influential politician who took oath as the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra for the second time in his political career, a stunning twist in the state's politics as the BJP's Devendra Fadnavis took oath as Chief Minister and Ajit Pawar as his deputy. This is Mr Fadnavis's second term in the top post.

Ajit Pawar's father Anantrao was Sharad Pawar's elder brother and worked for renowned film director V Shanataram. His uncle, of course, rose through the ranks of Maharashtra politics to become chief minister and cabinet minister at the centre. The junior Pawar's ambition clearly lay on that side of the family.

Ajit Pawar, 60, was elected from Baramati - the Pawar family stronghold in western Maharashtra's Pune - for a sixth straight term in the October state election.

Mr Pawar had resigned as the MLA from Baramati in September this year after he was named in a money-laundering case by the Enforcement Directorate. He was named - along with Sharad Pawar - by the probe agency in the alleged Rs. 25,000-crore Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank Ltd. scam.

Sharad Pawar founded the Nationalist Congress Party and is the boss, but in the party's Maharashtra unit, Ajit Pawar has many supporters and has been described by some as the NCP's "tallest leader" in the state.

Ajit Pawar had resigned as Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister in September 2012 in the wake of an irrigation. His resignation was as dramatic as his re-induction in December 2011.

Political rivals had said that the then Congress-led government buckled under the NCP's pressure to reinstate him.

Ajit Pawar or "Dada", is ambitious and assertive. After the 2009 assembly election, he sulked at not being appointed Deputy Chief Minister; he got his way in December 2010 when he replaced Chhagan Bhujbal in that post.

Ajit Pawar entered politics through a familiar family route: sugar cooperatives, of which his uncle was - and is - the uncrowned king in Maharashtra. He was elected MP from home town Baramati in 1991, but he gave that up only six months later when his uncle was appointed defence minister in the Narsimha Rao government in 1991. 

He returned to the state, winning the assembly seat from Baramati. When Sharad Pawar became Congress Chief Minister, his nephew served as minister of state in various departments.

In June 1999, Sharad Pawar split from the Congress over the issue of Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin and formed the Nationalist Congress Party. Ajit followed him there. In the twists and turns of politics, the Congress and the NCP came to power in Maharashtra after the state threw up a hung assembly the same year. At 40, Ajit Pawar became the youngest cabinet minister in the Congress-led Vilasrao Deshmukh government. He became the irrigation minister. It is in this ministry, which he kept for 10 years, that the alleged multi-crore scam took place.

The Bachelor of Commerce graduate lists himself as an agriculturist. He is married to Sunetra, a social entrepreneur, who also looks after his assembly constituency, and has two sons. The sobriquet Dada - which means elder brother and supporters say shows the love and respect he commands - is now ubiquitous.

Social media sites like Facebook have 'fan pages' for Ajit Dada Pawar. Even institutes and polytechnics are named for Ajit Dada Pawar in Ahmednagar and other places. On Twitter, his handle is called "@AjitPawarSpeaks" and had over 3.4 lakh followers.

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