Veteran state politician Madhukar Pichad and his son Vaibhav, who had left the NCP and joined the BJP ahead of the 2019 assembly elections, faced a humiliating defeat in their backyard.
It was not Pichad alone, once a confidant of NCP chief Sharad Pawar and a stalwart who held several top ministerial posts in the state as well as the post of Maharashtra NCP chief, who faced defeat, but his son and 19 others also.
The Pichad-led panel drew a blank against the NCP panel, which won all 21 seats on the board of directors of the Agasthi Cooperative Sugar Factory, Ahmednagar.
Pichad, who had ruled the cooperative in his home village Akole in the sugarcane-rich Ahmednagar district for a record 28 years, lost to his mentor’s party.
Both the NCP and the BJP had made the election a prestige issue. Leader of the Opposition Ajit Pawar had campaigned for candidates of the NCP-led panel against Pichad’s panel comprising local BJP leaders and some NCP rivals.
Pichad’s son Vaibhav had lost to NCP’s Kiran Lahamate in the 2019 assembly election. The duo later faced defeat in the Rajput gram panchayat election too, again at the NCP’s hands.
State NCP chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said, “The people of Akole taluka have rejected Pichad's panel. This victory is of the NCP and also of Sharad Pawar’s thoughts.”
Pichad and his son had crossed over to the BJP in 2019 as they were convinced the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP-Shiv Sena government would return to power. Officially, they claimed they had joined the BJP to put the development of Akole on the fast track.
However, their calculations were upset when the Sena snapped its alliance with the BJP and formed the government with the NCP and the Congress. Since then, they have been struggling to regain their hold in the region. With the latest defeat, Vaibhav is unlikely to get a nomination from the BJP for the 2024 assembly election.