Pawar plays it safe in name game

NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s suggestion to name the Bandra-Worli sea link in Mumbai after Rajiv Gandhi...

Written by Rakshit Sonawane | Published: July 11, 2009 2:50:54 am

NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s suggestion to name the Bandra-Worli sea link in Mumbai after Rajiv Gandhi at the inauguration of the bridge by Congress president Sonia Gandhi indicated that the NCP needs the Congress more than the Congress needs the NCP for a pre-poll alliance for the Assembly elections due in three months. Pawar’s gesture has met with some dissenting voices within the NCP that point out that in the 2004 Assembly elections,the NCP had emerged as the single-largest party with 71 MLAs. It was a year later that Narayan Rane joined the Congress,winning over Sena MLAs to take the Congress numbers to 75. However,after the lacklustre performance of the NCP in the Lok Sabha polls,Pawar seems to want to play.

BJP’s sweet surrender to co-op politics

The BJP seems to be following in the footsteps of the Congress,which derives strength in the state from cooperative barons who run empires in sectors like sugar mills,educational institutions,dairy networks and credit societies. After entering the business of cooperatives in rural Maharashtra by running sugar mills,BJP leaders Nitin Gadkari and Gopinath Munde are also competing with each other for taking over a sick sugar mill in Wardha. Their entry in the cooperative sector has ensured that sops for sugar mills from the government — which always bails out sugar cooperatives in trouble —are being unanimously welcomed.

Shiv Sena wins friends in the USA

The Shiv Sena may have invited wrath for being parochial and launching hate campaigns,but it has not stopped the party from seeking support abroad. Sena’s executive president Uddhav Thackeray recently inaugurated a convention of the Brihan Maharashtra Mandal (BMM) — an association of Maharashtrians settled in the US — and a “Friends of Shiv Sena” club of sorts was established on the occasion. While Uddhav called for unity of Marathis globally,the Sena’s mouthpiece Saamna hoped that one day a Marathi would occupy the White House. The catch is that the Sena is targeting Marathi migrants from Konkan settled in the US,as back home its bastion (Konkan) is under threat in the forthcoming Assembly elections. The Congress,which recently announced a package of Rs 5,232 crore for the region at a Cabinet meeting in Sindhudurg and also launched its poll campaign,is apparently encouraging Narayan Rane to take on the Sena in the region.

Bal and Raj: A love story

The estranged nephew of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray,Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray is making it a point to indicate that he loves and respects his uncle. Whenever Thackeray Sr has been admitted to hospital,Raj has promptly paid a visit. This is despite a diktat from Thackeray Sr that Raj should never use the former’s pictures on his party’s banners or publicity material. Obviously,Raj understands that Thackeray Sr still commands the respect of people not only in the MNS but also the Sena. And there are some activists in the Sena who are in the party because they don’t want to leave it and hurt Thackeray Sr.

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