Dark clouds of Ajit Pawar’s resignation, corruption charges against various ministers, the Lavasa controversy and the ongoing gram panchayat elections loomed large over Nationalist Congress Party’s state-level convention, which had been called aiming at 2014 elections.
The usual atmosphere of enthusiasm, sloganeering and excitement was missing from the NCP convention for which workers across the state gathered. Instead, the convention began with all workers maintaining absolute silence.
All eyes were on Ajit Pawar, who was seen keeping a low profile. Sitting on the dais, party chief Sharad Pawar, state president Madhukar Pichad and irrigation minister Sunil Tatkare mentioned Ajit Pawar’s resignation but this did not evoke any significant reaction from workers. Ajit Pawar was not even a speaker on the day of inauguration. Both Ajit Pawar and Supriya Sule will address the convention on Sunday. Outside Balewadi stadium, posters of both Supriya Sule and Ajit Pawar were seen all along the road.
Pichad said, “Pawarsaheb does not belong to Ajit or Supriya, but to all of us.” He blamed vested interests for creating the impression.
Tatkare was given an opportunity to address the workers in the light of the irrigation scams. He praised Ajit Pawar continuously during his speech and indirectly blamed the Congress for hatching a conspiracy against the emerging and powerful leadership in Maharashtra.
Tatkare came armed with statistics about his department. He, however, blamed the Congress for the escalation in cost of projects, saying all departments dealing with irrigation such as revenue, agriculture, forest and rehabilitation were controlled by the Congress. Tatkare was particularly bitter with agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil. He said the agriculture department was not looking at the entire picture on irrigation because of which people were being fed with false information. Sharad Pawar even suggested that a booklet be published on Tatkare’s speech.
Sharad Pawar himself set the agenda in inaugural session of convention giving no chance to anybody to deviate from what he has in mind. Pawar’s major portion of speech was educative instead of politics.
For the first time, he shared his experience of fighting oral cancer. “Doctors had given me six months, but six years have passed and I am normal now,” he said.