On his way to Goa for a party meeting, civil aviation minister Praful Patel took a little detour.
He stopped by at the HT office for a cup of coffee and a few questions. Dressed in a white kurta-pyjama, Patel was forthcoming in his answers whether it was about poor infrastructure or political compulsions.
"Mumbai is a complex city. There are too many political parties here and perhaps even voters were confused. Unlike Congress, Shiv Sena and the BJP, we have yet to establish a distinct vote-base," is how Patel summed up the Nationalist Congress Party's defeat in the recent civic polls.
However, quite the loyalist, Patel put up a defence. "I have not gone through the analysis yet but if you look at the voting percentage, we have not done too badly."
According to Patel, the NCP did not plan its poll strategy well, waiting till the very end to sew up the pre-poll alliance. As a result of the ensuing confusion candidates were unprepared.
The alliance did not work and is being touted as the main reason for the party's failure to wrest control of the BMC from the incumbent saffron parties.
Patel felt that friends from Congress deputed to do the job were not sure of their decisions. "There are lessons to be learnt by both. The onus of the failure is not only on us," he said.
The good news: NCP managed to emerge stronger in other urban corporations especially Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. "The boss is from Pune," smiled Patel, summing it up in half a sentence.
It might be time then for NCP - a rural party made up of sugar barons and co-operative scions - to gain more than a toehold in Mumbai and its hinterland.
Email Ketaki Ghoge: firstname.lastname@example.org