Updated: June 12, 2021 11:14:14 am
NCP President Sharad Pawar’s lunch with political strategist Prashant Kishor at the former’s residence in Mumbai on Friday has set the political pot simmering in the state, even as MP Supriya Sule and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar called it a private lunch and dispelled rumours.
“It was a private lunch meet. Don’t read too much politics in it,” Sule said later on Friday. The three-hour-long meeting was held at Pawar’s Silver Oak residence.
Kishor, too, described the meeting as a “good will” tour and a part of a “thanksgiving visit” to all those leaders who had expressed solidarity with the Trinamool Congress and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during the Assembly elections in that state.
This is Kishor’s first meeting with Pawar after the victory of the DMK and the TMC in the assembly elections in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal respectively. He had helped craft the election strategy for these parties in the assembly elections.
Recently, Pawar has resurfaced from his convalescence after a gall bladder procedure in late April. He visited thespian Dilip Kumar, who is undergoing treatment at a Mumbai hospital, met party members and also received Opposition leader and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.
On Thursday, on the occasion of NCP’s 22nd foundation day, Pawar had said the Maha Vikas Aghadi, the ruling tripartite alliance between Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, was in “good health”.
Addressing a small gathering of party leaders, Pawar also put a lid on speculation triggered by the Delhi meeting between Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “NCP will work with Congress and Shiv Sena and succeed in both Assembly and Lok Sabha polls,” he had said.
It had rekindled hope among some in his party that the 82-year-old political leader was working to stitching together a grand coalition before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, and some have also linked Kishor’s call on Pawar to it.
“When Pawar and Kishor are meeting discussion on national and state politics is inevitable,” NCP minister Nawab Malik said.
A party insider, meanwhile, said, “Ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha polls, there is a demand that senior and most-experienced leader Pawar should take the initiative to bring all regional and non-BJP parties together under one banner. Kishor and Pawar may have reflected on the common political ground keeping 2024 politics in mind.”
There is also talk that the NCP may be considering roping in Kishor for the next polls, though the latter has already announced that West Bengal was his last innings as a polls strategist.
A senior cabinet leader, not wishing to be named, said, “After the West Bengal polls, a section within the state NCP has been urging Pawar senior to get Kishor on board to the help party for 2024 polls.”
But Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar dismissed the idea. “Kishor had himself in public declared he was not going to continue the work of a poll strategist post the Bengal polls. So, how is it possible?” He asked. The state NCP president Jayant Patil, too, said people from all walks of life and political parties meet Pawar to discuss a wide range of issues of national importance.
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