NCP president Sharad Pawar was taken aback on Saturday when a majority of his party leaders and candidates exuded confidence about winning their Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra.
Pawar had convened a meeting of NCP ministers and select senior leaders to review the party’s performance in the Lok Sabha polls held in Maharashtra on April 10, April 17 and April 24.
Sources said the NCP chief seemed amused by the confidence his party leaders displayed. “I am happy. I like your confidence. It goes to show situation in Maharashtra was different compared to other areas where the Narendra Modi factor was at work,” he was quoted by sources as saying.
In Maharashtra, the NCP contested 21 out of the total 48 Lok Sabha seats. The remaining 27 were contested by its ally Congress. A senior NCP leader who attended the meeting said, “The purpose of the meeting was to assess the party’s overall performance.” However, notwithstanding the confidence shown by NCP ministers and Lok Sabha candidates, an internal assessment by the party does not display similar sentiments. A senior general secretary of the party said, “In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, we won eight seats. This time, we expect results along the same lines. Maybe a difference of one or two seats.”
The internal assessment shows that seats like Amravati, Buldhana, Beed, Mawal and Shirur are being dismissed as very difficult ones. Similar is the case with Nashik, where senior minister Chhagan Bhujbal contested, and Raigad where Sunil Tatkare was the NCP candidate.
In anticipation of the likely change in the political scenario at the Centre because of the Modi factor, Pawar has also urged key leaders and ministers of the NCP to begin serious preparations for the Assembly elections in the state due in October this year. A senior minister said, “We have just six months left for the Assembly elections. The Congress-NCP combine has been ruling in the state since 1999. So, the challenge ahead is greater.”