Saturday, June 11, 2005


Rediff has a good article on Baramati, the constituency of Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.
Baramati, in Maharashtra's sugarcane belt, has been a star constituency through most of Pawar's six terms in the Maharashtra state assembly and five terms in the Lok Sabha. (....) Over the last 30 years, money was poured into Baramati to make it the showpiece of Pawar's political ascendancy. It was designed to be proof of Pawar's identification with the humble farmer and his problems. Baramati was planned as a model for rural development. The backbone of these development initiatives are the sugar cooperatives, which Pawar has systematically taken over. His brother, Appasaheb Pawar, was managing director of Baramati Sugar Cooperative through which Pawar has wielded much of his political influence. The milk cooperatives, the horticultural cooperatives and the market associations are all controlled by Pawar and his men. He controls the money coming into Baramati, and the access to that money through his hold over the district cooperative banks. (Emphasis Mine.)
Pawar, says the article, has used this control to make Baramati his personal fiefdom. Pawar never campaigns in Baramati, he or his nominee always win. Pawar is never challenged in Baramati. Even his opponents like Gopinath Munde can be heard promising promising the people of Beed to turn Beed into Baramati - if they vote for him.

There is, however, trouble in paradise:
Even the presence of a political heavyweight such as Pawar has only marginally alleviated the harsh conditions of life in this perennially drought-hit land. Only a third of Baramati is irrigated. The other two-thirds, where more than half its population lives and farms, is dry and dependent on rain.

Little has changed for the small-farmer here in the last 15 years. He still cannot afford to plant sugarcane, which requires large amounts of water. He grows wheat, jowar, bajra and seasonal vegetables, which are not profitable.
Pawar's critics claim that while Baramati has become the hub of development, in Daund and Indapur and other tehsils, development has stagnated.
In Daund, which is just a 20 km drive from Baramati, 36 villages have been struggling with drinking water problems. In Indapur, 22 villages have been having reeling under severe water shortage for drinking as well as for irrigation.

Baramati is grid with every switch controlled by Pawar and his family. "When dignitaries such as Manmohan Singh and Lalu Yadav come to Baramati, they are shown Vidya Prathistan, KVK and the developed parts of the city. They go away impressed, but nothing has changed for the poor people who don't plant sugarcane," says a local. (Many sics)
You can read the whole article here.

Posted in Politcis and Economics.


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