Sharad Pawar’s grandnephew slams Shinde govt for ‘2 am action’ against his firm. ‘Political revenge’

Mumbai: A unit of the Maharashtra government allegedly took action against Baramati Agro Limited, an agribusiness conglomerate owned and led by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) founder Sharad Pawar’s grand-nephew Rohit Pawar, at 2 a.m. Thursday, Rohit claimed, alleging that he was being politically targeted.

Rohit, an MLA of the Karjat Jamkhed assembly constituency in the Ahmednagar district, did not elaborate what the purported action was for or which department had initiated it. He also did not detail what was the purported action taken against the company.

However, a leader in the Sharad Pawar-led NCP, known to be close to Rohit, told ThePrint that the action was “taken by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB)”, which purportedly served a notice to a Baramati Agro unit to shut down in 72 hours.

The MPCB comes under the state environment department helmed by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.

There has been no confirmation of the purported action by the government.

Rohit is chief executive officer of Baramati Agro, an exporter and domestic supplier of sugar, rice and ethanol.

Following the split in the NCP in July this year — when a majority of the party’s MLAs, led by Sharad’s nephew Ajit Pawar, rebelled against the Sharad Pawar-led NCP, to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shinde-led Shiv Sena government in power in Maharashtra — Rohit’s prominence within the Sharad Pawar camp has grown.

His supporters have also been putting up posters talking up Rohit as the “future CM” of Maharashtra.

Rohit has alleged that the “action” against Baramati Agro was taken at the behest of “two senior leaders” of the ruling parties, though he stopped short of naming anyone.

Taking to the social media platform X, Rohit said, “On the request of two big leaders of the state, action was taken against a department of my company at two in the morning today by a government department of the state government….efforts are being taken to get me into trouble because I speak up, take a firm stand, but the struggle doesn’t stop just because there are difficulties….”

He added: “This politics of hatred is not suitable for today’s generation. My company employees and my family need not worry as we are on the side of truth and this action is only for political revenge.”

ThePrint has reached Rohit for comment via phone and text message. The report will be updated if a response is received. ThePrint has also reached Praveen Darade, principal secretary of the state environment department for comment over phone and text message, but received no response till the time of publication of this report. The article will be updated once a response is received.

Mahesh Tapase, spokesperson of the Sharad Pawar-led NCP, said in a statement, however, “The Shinde government is afraid of Rohit Pawar as he fervently champions the progressive and secular ideals of national leader Sharad Pawar across Maharashtra… the recent actions against Rohit Pawar’s business are indicative of the BJP’s growing concern over the declining popularity of its government.”

Sheetal Mhatre, spokesperson of the Shinde-led Shiv Sena, meanwhile told ThePrint it was unfair of Opposition leaders to talk about action against alleged wrongdoings by them as a political conspiracy by the ruling parties.

“If something [is] wrong, and the government has taken action against it, what is the problem? This is not just with Rohit Pawar, leaders of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) have also been trying to create confusion among people by claiming that probes into irregularities committed by them are just to politically target them,” Mhatre said.

“If someone feels any action is unfair, they are free to go and fight it out in the court,” she added.


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Previous action against Baramati Agro

Rohit has been at odds with the Shinde-led government even in the past.

As reported by ThePrint earlier, last year, BJP MLC Ram Shinde, who had lost the 2019 assembly elections from Karjat Jamkhed to Rohit, had complained to the state sugar commissioner that Baramati Agro started sugar crushing on 10 October in contravention of the state government’s rules that year.

According to Shinde’s complaint, the state cabinet had in September 2022 decided that the sugar crushing season for 2022-23 will start on 15 October and the government will initiate criminal action against factories who don’t follow this timeline.

Baramati Agro’s executive director Subhash Gulave later filed a petition in the Bombay High Court seeking to quash an FIR filed against the company based on the complaint.

Gulave claimed the sugar commissioner had appointed a special auditor to probe the charges against Baramati Agro and had found no irregularities.

However, according to his petition, this auditor was suspended and a new one was appointed in his place. He said the audit report was not shared with the company, which found out about its contents only after receiving a show-cause notice in March this year.

The Bombay High Court in July stayed any further proceedings based on the FIR.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)


Also read: ‘NCP is Maharashtra’s BSP’ — what BJP stands to gain from Ajit Pawar’s switch ahead of 2024