The Nationalist Congress Party has convened a two-day convention on February 8 and 9 in Balewadi (Pune) to discuss threadbare the roadmap ahead for the party.
NCP president Sharad Pawar will be present throughout the session that will draw the strategy to be adopted by the party to consolidate its opposition role in Maharashtra.
Party state chief Sunil Tatkare said: “Almost 5,000 delegates, including office-bearers from gram panchayat to state and central offices, will attend the convention that will spell the policy and programmes ahead of the budget session both in the state and at the centre.”
High on the agenda is the “agriculture crises” across the country. Pawar has already expressed his disappointment over the centre’s “failure” to extend concessions to sugar mills that have been told by the centre to pay a fair and remunerative price of Rs 2,200 per tonne of sugarcane to farmers. The mills have expressed their inability pay the FRP leading to protests by sugarcane farmers. The NCP has said the centre-state “appears lacking in effectively taking decisions on factories and cane cultivators, which will have wider ramifications on socio-economy”.
Tatkare said: “Our state leaders will begin their tour to drought-hit regions from the second week of February.”
While the party has begun the process to reach out to its old guards who had left the organisation or distanced themselves from it following differences, leaders admit there are problems aplenty.
“The NCP cannot adopt a double role. To begin with, they have to take a firm decision on whether they want to be a serious opposition or not. If they are an aggressive opposition, they have to attack governments both in state and the centre,” said a senior functionary who did not wish to be named. He added: “The central leaders cannot be seen cosying up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on one hand and directing the state unit to get aggressive against the state government. It does not enthuse the cadre.”
Modi forthcoming visit to Baramati on February 14 has triggered discussions in NCP.
The top leadership is also struggling to cope with the party’s image that has taken a beating with its top leaders Ajit Pawar, Chhagan Bhujbal and Sunil Tatkare facing investigations being carried out by the Anti-Corruption Bureau. However, the NCP is confident all three “will emerge clean”. “There is no reason to go on the back foot,” said a senior leader.
Currently, the party has undertaken a membership drive, setting a target of over 25 lakh enrollment. Tatkare said: “The party still has a strong base at the grassroots. This is evident from the results in the local bodies elections held recently.”