Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, who turned 76 on Monday, will complete 50 years of active politics on February 22, 2017, the day he was announced winner of Assembly elections in 1967.
The party and the institutions managed by him are planning a grand show to commemorate his five-decade career as a politician.
The challenges before the leader as a party chief are huge.
The dwindling credibility resulting in poor show in the elections being held in the state and unrest among the Marathas and Dalits over the party’s stance have posed a crisis before the party.
Pawar’s flip-flop on the demonitisation issue and his hobnobbing with prime minster Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders have not gone down well with the electorate.
The party’s OBC face Chhagan Bhujbal has been in jail for the past eight months over corruption charges. Two other leaders, Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare, are facing allegations of involvement in irrigation scam.
Pawar has the challenge of choosing his successor as the choice between daughter Supriya Sule and nephew Ajit Pawar would not be an easy task.
As an attempt to boost the morale of party workers, the party has decided to put up a grand show early next year.
“There is no doubt that the country has no parallel stature like Pawar in terms of his political intellect, command over administration, inquisitive knowledge of social, agriculture issues, but he has been continuously losing his credibility,” said Prakash Bal, political analyst.
“After 1978 (when he toppled the Congress government), he has been on shaky ground. The stand taken by his party after 2014 assembly elections is the latest of his incredible moves. If this continues, he may even lose his popularity rapidly,” said Bal.
Pawar was sworn in as an MLA in Maharashtra Assembly on March 13, 1967. At 38, he was the youngest chief minister of state and later held the chair four times.
Yashwantrao Chavan Centre has chalked out programmes which will go on for a few months. “The essay writing and elocution competition being held across the state for school and college students will culminate on January 15 with Pawarsaheb interacting with the finalists for couple of hours in Baramati,” said Datta Balsaraf, programme manager, YB Chavan Centre.
Workshops, conferences spread over next few months are part of the programme. There will be a grand political conference in which parliamentarians, scholars, analysts will speak.
The code of conduct of the municipal corporation and district council elections has, however, upset plans of a grand political show.
“We have planned around 50 programmes but the dates will be finalised once the dates for the civic bodies and assembly elections are declared. If not on February 22, the functions could be held on March 13, when he was sworn in as an MLA,” said a senior party leader.