A two-day NCP meeting is under way in Mumbai to evolve party strategy for a possible early parliamentary election. The meeting convened by president Sharad Pawar aims to improve the electoral strength of the party and refurbish its public image.
Against the backdrop of the appointment of the relatively young,academically bright and non-controversial Devendra Fadnavis as state BJP president,NCP wants to correct course.
This has become particularly essential with the face of the party in Maharashtra,deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar,inviting negative criticism for his out of turn remarks on sensitive issues such as drought.
In comparison,alliance partner Congress is led by Mr Clean Prithviraj Chavan. Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray too is non-controversial.
Senior state NCP leaders admitted,Image-building will have to be taken up on a war footing if we have to get good results in the election.
To that end,the state unit is seeking the guidance of Pawar Sr.
NCP is keen on continuing its alliance with Congress for parliament elections and will contest 22 of the 48 seats in the state.Sharad Pawar,who wants to increase the strike rate of his party,wants some senior state cabinet ministers to contest parliament elections.
NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said,Pawar (Sr) will preside over the meeting on Friday and Saturday to discuss party preparedness ahead of parliament elections.
The meeting began at Devgiri,the official residence of deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. On its first day,Pawar held discussions with NCP ministers and senior key functionaries.
On Saturday,district presidents and office-bearers will be included in the meeting at the party headquarters at Nariman Point. In 2009,NCP had won eight Lok Sabha seats and the party wants to improve the tally to 15.
A general secretary said,There is speculation of an early Lok Sabha election. As such,Pawar Sr wants to review and discuss plans with the state unit.
The biggest challenge for Pawar Sr is to convince senior cabinet ministers to shift to Delhi. Almost half-a-dozen senior ministers who are being discussed to contest for Lok Sabha have reservations and would prefer to stay in the state Assembly.