After its poor performance in the zilla parishad (district council) and urban local body elections, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is now staring at a bleak future, with questions being raised over the five-decade-long influence of its chief Sharad Pawar and his style of politics in Maharashtra.
The party, known for its strong base in western Maharashtra, was left red-faced, with people favouring the Bharatiya Janata Party over it in both urban and rural areas. Political observers believe Pawar has lost his credibility, which is why the NCP could not mobilise voters in its favour, despite factors such as demonetisation and trouble for the cooperative sector.
The party has lost power in four municipal corporations including Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad from western Maharashtra, considered its stronghold. It has also lost two other municipal corporations — Solapur and Amravati -- where it was in power with ally Congress. The NCP is on the second position in the zilla parishad elections, despite being considered a party with a strong rural base.
An analysis of the data made available by the state election commission (SEC) shows the NCP has lost 129 seats in the 10 municipal corporation elections. The party won 266 seats in 2012, which has been reduced to 137 seats. Further, in the zilla parishad elections, the party has won 360 seats, much lower compared to its tally of 511 in 2012.
Many consider this as the poorest performance of the NCP since its formation in 1999, raising questions over whether the party, which has being doing well in the state for the past 15 years, will survive.
In the ZP polls, where the party’s performance was not up to the mark, especially in Sangli district, the NCP won only 14 of the 60 seats, lower than 33 in 2012. Moreover, except Osmanabad district, the number of seats has reduced in all other ZPs, according to the latest figures made available by the SEC.
“Pawar’s topsy-turvy politics like aligning with BJP and then speaking against Prime Minister Narendra Modi over demonetisation has created a situation where he has lost credibility,” said Prakash Bal political analyst.
Bal said Pawar needs to bring in young blood into the party . “Pawar needs to give a chance to new faces in the party, as the party is being represented by the same people since its formation in 1999,” Bal said.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said the party’s performance was not as expected. “Victory and defeat are part of electoral politics. We will work hard and fight back and will perform better in the coming days,” Malik said.