On poll pitch: NCP looks at Sule,not Ajit Pawar,to take strike first

With Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s image further taking a beating over the irrigation scam and party chief Sharad Pawar announcing his decision to go out of poll ring,the Nationalist Congress Party is now looking at Supriya Sule,MP,to lead the party’s campaigning in the forthcoming elections.

Written by MANOJ MORE | Pune | Published: June 17, 2013 1:50 am

With Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s image further taking a beating over the irrigation scam and party chief Sharad Pawar announcing his decision to go out of poll ring,the Nationalist Congress Party is now looking at Supriya Sule,MP,to lead the party’s campaigning in the forthcoming elections. In fact,according to NCP sources,Pawar wants her to play a major role in both during Lok Sabha and Assembly elections as he wants her to become the first woman chief minister of Maharashtra.

What works in favour of Sule,said NCP leaders,is her clean and non-controversial image. Though she is not a crowd puller like her father or her cousin,Ajit Pawar,Sule has in the last eight months or so “succeeded” in wooing women voters through Rashtrawadi Yuvati Congress which was her brainchild. NCP leaders said Sule has worked hard to make RYC popular,has toured several parts of the state and helped the party expand its base. “RYC gave Sule an opportunity to prove her mettle as a leader and she has put in her might to expand the party’s base,” said party MP Vandana Chavan. “In view of this and given the fact that opposition will target Ajit Pawar during the poll campaign,Sule is being tasked with playing a major role ahead of her cousin,” added an NCP leader.

NCP fears that the opposition will aggressively target Ajit Pawar and try to stir the public’s conscience by raising the Rs 70,000 crore irrigation scam — for which Pawar had to resign,as well as his objectionable remarks over the fast work undertaken by Prabhakar Deshmukh,a farmer from Solapur. NCP is also aware of the public anger still against Ajit Pawar,especially in the drought-hit Marathwada region,and he has been avoiding public functions and ducking the media. In fact,after last week’s reshuffle of NCP ministers,it was Sule who held forth for the party,backing the appointment of ministers who faced charges of corruption. “Ajit Pawar could not do so as he himself is facing charges,” said a leader.

“The Opposition has nothing against Sule. If she heads the party’s campaign,they will have nothing to score over NCP,” said a party leader. Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe said,“Forget about opposition parties,even activists like Deshmukh will target Ajit Pawar.” However,Gorhe said NCP will find it difficult to sidestep Ajit Pawar. “He is controversial,but NCP can’t do without him as it lacks leaders who can get them the crowd. Anyways,the public mood is in favour of saffron alliance as the ruling parties have lost it all.We will leave nothing to chance to come back to power,” she said.

When asked whether she would be leading the party’s poll campaign,Sule however said,“When Sharad Pawar is there,who else will lead the party’s poll campaign?” She said her father was “fit and fine” and would lead the party’s campaigning.

To another question regarding her father’s desire to see her become the first woman chief minister of Maharashtra,Sule was evasive. “We would be first concentrating on Lok Sabha elections which will take place before the Assembly elections,” she said. According to Vandana Chavan,“All party leaders,whether Supriya Sule or Ajit Pawar,would work unitedly under Pawarsaheb…Sule is party’s popular leader and would be in the forefront of party’s campaigning.”

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