Mumbai: No one dare raise an eyebrow or a finger as Latur district administration in Marathwada region of Maharashtra gives full protocol status with a convoy of 16 cars when Abhimanyu Pawar, Personal Assistant (PA) to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis visits his home town Ausa.
Such is the clout of Ambhimanyu Pawar that last week when Pawar was on tour even Resident District Collector (RDC) followed the official car of Pawar in a convoy. On the contrary, there were only three cars in a convoy of Guardian Minister of Latur district Sambhaji Patil-Nilangekar that included the Decoy Vehicle (DV) car of minister, pilot vehicle of police and one another car with party leaders. That goes to show you the power and clout of the PA to the CM.
Pawar who joined Team Fadnavis after 2014 assembly polls became powerful in the last four and half years so much so that he now is nursing an ambition of becoming Member of Assembly Legislature (MLA) from Ausa assembly constituency in the ensuing assembly elections due in September-October.
Abhimanyu Pawar is not the only PA of Fadnavis or any other of his ministers who nurse the desire to enter active politics by riding on the Modi wave. According to a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) insider, Pawar has implemented each and every government scheme in his native Ausa in an apparent bid to nurture his assembly constituency with an aim to contest the 2019 assembly polls. “Pawar has spent hundreds and crores of Rupees for the welfare of people of Ausa. There should not be any objection to it if someone is taking care of the people,” said a party leader on condition of anonymity.
Presently, Basavaraj Patil of the Congress represents Ausa assembly constituency. In the 2014 assembly elections, Patil had defeated Dinkar Mane of Shiv Sena, thanks to the division of votes as BJP and Shiv Sena had contested the polls separately.
Another staffer of Fadnavis who has dreams of to becoming an MLA from Arvi in Wardha district of Vidarbha region is none other than Sumit Wankhede, Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to Chief Minister. Wankhede has been working with Fadnavis since the time the latter was just an ordinary legislator. Currently, Arvi assembly constituency is being represented by Amar Kale of the Congress in the lower house of the state legislature.
The difference between Pawar and Wankhede is that Pawar has made use of media to promote himself as a future legislator and has taken on Minister Sambhaji Patil-Nilangekar as his political rival. On the other hand Wankhede prefers to keep a low profile and work quite. Wankhede said, “I am not interested to contest the poll this time”.
“The desire to become MLA is not objectionable. But, this ego tussle and rat race to become an MLA has affected the Chief Ministers Offices (CMO) focus on a large scale and has affected the common man. Pawar and Wankhede have used the CMO and govenment schemes for their personal political gain,” remarked one bureaucrat while speaking to Rajkaran.com on conditions of anonymity.
The lure of power and trappings of an MLA and a Minister are hard to resist once one is part of or comes close to the power structure. Prakash Balbudhe, associate to state BJP president Raosaheb Danve wants to contest from Sakoli in Bhandara district. Whereas Omprakash Shetye who heads the Chief Minister’s Medical Aid Cell is keen on contesting assembly election from Majalgaon seat in Beed district. Balbudhe has set up Smart Village Development Society in Sakoli. Shetye on the other hand while serving people through health cell has diverted maximum welfare funds to the assembly constituency he has set his eyes on. In Majalgaon, BJP’s R T Deshmukh is sitting legislator. Whereas, Ramesh Adarkar and Mohan Jagtap are two other aspirants apart from Shetye.
Parikshit Dhume who once worked for former Housing minister Prakash Mehta is now aspiring to contest assembly election from Thane city. All these aspirants want ticket from BJP as they feel BJP has “Aachche Din”, the absence of a strong opposition and that the BJP will win the 2019 state assembly polls. The question is whether the BJP will replace sitting BJP MLA Rajesh Kashiwar for Balbudhe, Deshmukh for Shetye and Sanjay Kelkar for Ghume.
“This is not for the first time that a PA of any political leader, MLA or minister wants to become an MLA. In past Dilip Walse-Patil PA of Sharad Pawar, Haribhau Rathod and Amit Satyam, PA of late Gopinath Munde, Vinayak Mete PA of Maratha Mahasangh leader Shashikant Pawar went on to became a legislator,” said political analyst Kiran Tare.
There is an interesting anecdote to Mete becoming a legislator for the first time in 1996. Taking full advantage of the differences between Maratha Mahasangh leaders Kisanrao Warkhinde and Shashikant Pawar over whether the Mahasangh should take the political plunge or not. Mete exploited the differences and weaned Pawar towards late senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde who promised Pawar a nomination to the Legislative Council. When the D-day arrived, Pawar who was more than a lazy bone refused to come down from his nearby perch in a suite at Hotel Trident to fetch for the party ticket.
So lazy he was that instead, he (Shashikant Pawar) sent his PA Mete to fetch the party ticket (AB Form) from the nearby state BJP office which was at stones throw distance. Wily and aware of the implications, Mete reached the nearby state BJP office with barely few minutes were left for the deadline to file the nomination papers. He then straight dashed to the Election Commission branch office at Vidhan Bhavan and instead of writing the name of his boss on the form, wrote his own name. The rest after that is history with
Mete becoming an MLC and Shashikant Pawar was left repenting for the rest of his life.