Western Maharashtra strongman Sharad Pawar seems to be facing dissent on his own home turf.
The sugar bowl of Maharashtra, once dominated by the NCP, is changing its political character with anti-Pawar voices gaining momentum.
Close to the Assembly polls, Pawar’s rival and Swabhimani Shetakari Sanghatana (SSS) leader Raju Shetti has joined hands with the Shiv Sena to keep the NCP “out of power”.
“The main purpose of the SSS is to keep the NCP out of power,” said Shetti, who was recently elected to the Lok Sabha. “To fulfill this, we are even open to supporting the Sena-BJP.” The SSS arrangement with Sena has also changed political equations in the region.
The Sena has extended support to two SSS candidates at Kagal and Radhanagari while managing to get the SSS to back it at Shahuwadi in Kolhapur.
These developments are causing the NCP a headache especially since it lost both Lok Sabha seats in the region.
Shetti’s stand has also come as a jolt to RPI-led Third Front. Shetti’s organisation was part of the Front, which had decided to keep equal distance from the NCP-Congress and Shiv Sena-BJP alliances.
Local leaders Vinay Kore and Sadashivrao Mandlik are also open to supporting the saffron combine.
Mandlik’s son, Sanjay, is contesting from Kagal. Another regional party Jana Surajya Shakti, which is contesting from 40 seats, is open to all options. Kore, who heads the party, said: “If the opportunity comes to share power, we are open to all options.”