2024 polls in mind, Nirmala Sitharaman to begin tour of Pawar stronghold Baramati from September 22

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is likely to reach Baramati in Maharashtra on September 22 for a three-day tour of the Lok Sabha seat in a bid to shore up the BJP’s fortunes in the hometown and stronghold of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and his family.

BJP MLC Ram Shinde, who has been made in-charge of Baramati, said: “During her visit, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will extensively tour all six Legislative Assembly segments in the Baramati Lok Sabha constituency.” Baramati comprises six assembly segments — Indapur, Bhor, Daund, Khadakwasla, Purander and Baramati.

Sitharaman’s visit to Baramati is part of BJP’s ‘Mission 2024’ in which the central leadership has shortlisted 144 Lok Sabha seats in the ‘difficult’ category. Of these 144 seats, 16 are in Maharashtra.

The Baramati Lok Sabha seat has been represented by Supriya Sule since 2009. Her father, Sharad Pawar, had won successive polls between 1991 and 2004 on his home turf. Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar holds the Baramati Assembly seat.

Although Lok Sabha polls are still far away, BJP has started poll preparations well in advance. The party has coined a new slogan- “A for Amethi, B for Baramati” to impress upon its cadre the challenge and determination to pull off a victory. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Smriti Irani of the BJP beat Rahul Gandhi in Congress stronghold Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. Its candidate Kanchan Kul, however, failed to dislodge Supriya Sule from Baramati.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra, the BJP won 23 seats and its then alliance partner Shiv Sena won 18. The BJP’s target this time, according to sources, is to win 45 out of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Earlier, Sitharaman’s tour was scheduled to begin on August 16. But the party rescheduled it as it clashed with the monsoon session of the Legislative Assembly in Maharashtra.

Highly placed sources in BJP said: “Sitharaman will travel across Baramati to personally assess the ground reality. Interaction with cadres and various organisations will be part of her tour. She will also look at the development works. The purpose of the tour is also to find out what the issues confronting people are and whether basic necessities like drinking water, housing or agriculture have been addressed. Whether there is scope and need for infrastructure and other mega projects to improve people’s livelihood and generate employment. The BJP wants to use the tour to give a new face-lift to Baramati.”

“There is a general perception that Baramati is a perfect model. Whereas, the fact is that there are still hundreds of villages where drinking water is a concern, especially during summers.”

Sule had earlier said: “Finance Minister Nirmalaji is most welcome to visit Baramati.”

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