NCP's national convention begins in Dehradun on Saturday against the backdrop of strains in the party's ties with Congress and veiled attack from within the UPA on party supremo and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar for farmers' suicides and rising prices.
The convention assumes significance as it is being held a week before the Congress Chief Ministers' conclave in Nainital where Pawar could come under oblique criticism when the meet focusses on agriculture.
Pawar's party, which was formed after he parted ways with Congress way back in 1999 on the foreign origin issue of Sonia Gandhi, is meeting for the first time in a north Indian state.
The NCP has been in the news as veteran Kerala leader K Karunakaran is making efforts to merge his party, Democratic Indira Congress (Kerala) with Pawar's party which is part of the ruling Left Democratic Front in the southern state.
The development has not gone down well in Congress and Left circles because Karunakaran had split Congress in Kerala and has been a strong Left-basher.
This is the first convention after Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule joined the party two months back and was made a Rajya Sabha member amid expectations that she would play a more active role in party affairs.
Strains had developed between NCP and Congress, sharing power in Maharashtra, over the issue of Rajya Sabha nomination as NCP had sided with Shiv Sena-BJP and supported industrialist Rahul Bajaj.