Senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar on Monday said he was accepting the challenge thrown by the ruling BJP which has announced Dhangar leader Gopichand Padalkar as its candidate from Baramati Assembly seat.
Pawar, who resigned from the Assembly after being named by the Enforcement Directorate in the multi-crore Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank scam, said he planned to “fight fire with fire”.
“I accept the challenge. I am ready to fight fire with fire,” he said.
Earlier in the day, while inducting Padalkar into the BJP, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “He (Padalkar) is like a tiger, who should challenge a major established leader. If he is ready, I will try to field him from Baramati Assembly seat.”
Padalkar had lost the Lok Sabha polls from Sangli earlier this year on a Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi ticket.
Baramati, represented by Pawar since over a decade and for several terms before that by NCP chief Sharad Pawar, has a sizable Dhangar community presence.
An NCP leader said the BJP wants to make the fight in Baramati one between Dhangars and Marathas, and in the process consolidate the former’s vote across the state.
Speaking to reporters, the former deputy chief minister also said the NCP would definitely field a candidate against Sena’s Aaditya Thackeray in Worli, asserting that his party would not make it a cakewalk for anybody.