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Sharad Pawar turns to challenges as party image takes a beating

Although the assembly and parliamentary polls are a long way, in 2019, the party is trying to consolidate its base in the local bodies elections in 2016-17.

Written by Shubhangi Khapre | Mumbai | Published: February 4, 2016 1:53:38 am
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Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar will tour across Maharashtra to mobilise the cadre and rebuild the organisation. At 75, Pawar feels the need to wield complete control of the organisation as some of their top leaders are facing corruption charges. The biggest challenge for NCP is to beat the negative image of the party.

The arrest of NCP (MP) Sameer Bhujbal on charges of financial irregularities is not the end of the problem.

Three senior leaders Chhagan Bhujbal, Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare are being probed by the anti-corruption bureau on different issues. While Bhujbal is facing a probe on Maharashtra Sadan construction case, Ajit (Pawar) and Sunil Tatkare are facing investigation for mismanagement in irrigation projects.

Pawar senior has decided to rebuild the organisation. At the party’s internal meeting, he said, “I will be regularly coming to NCP headquarters (Nariman Point) and meeting party workers.”

Pawar’s statement comes after his recent hospitalisation after he complained of uneasiness. However, displaying a sense of humour, he said, “I am fit and fine. I am all set to start touring the state.” In the 2014 assembly polls, NCP won only 41 seats out of 288 in the state. In the Lok Sabha elections, it won four seats out of total 48 seats in Maharashtra.

Notwithstanding the stature and acceptance he enjoys within the organisation and the state, Pawar’s biggest concern also relates to challenges staring at the organisation. State NCP chief Sunil Tatkare said, “The zeal with which Pawar works and motivates workers is unparalleled. The NCP is determined to regain its electoral base in the coming months.”

Although the assembly and parliament elections are a long way, in 2019, the party is trying to consolidate its base in the local bodies elections in 2016-17. Pawar has urged the party leaders to begin the work in drought hit districts. In February, there are reports of water crisis in some districts from Marathwada. The situation will become grave with the onset of summer.

Pawar has decided to tour drought stricken districts. The local unit of the party has been directed to set up fodder camps and provide relief to the people and cattle. Insiders in the NCP revealed, “Pawar saheb cannot afford to take the backseat as none of the second rung leaders can instill the confidence in the cadre. Nor can second rung leaders unite the organisation to work for a common cause.”

According to political managers, “Chhagan Bhujbal commanded a lot of respect and say in the party. However, investigations have imposed limitations.” Ajit Pawar, who also wields a lot of clout in the party is being probed for his decision making as former minister for water resources.

The untimely demise of former home minister R R Patil was a setback. Patil had the maximum mass appeal amongst the poor and middle class, cutting across caste and community.

Analysing the party’s present situation, a senior leader said, “NCP has some of the best administrators. But when it comes to leading the masses, there are limitations. Each leader holds sway in his own district or constituency. Apart from Sharad Pawar, there is nobody who enjoys appeal across the regions and section in Maharashtra.”

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