Party over for Sharad Pawar? Civic polls loss leaves NCP battling for survival
The elections to 25 zilla parishads (district council) and 10 municipal corporations have dealt a severe blow to the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), making many consider it as the biggest loser in the recently held polls in Maharashtra.mumbai Updated: Feb 24, 2017 12:00 IST
The elections to 25 zilla parishads (district council) and 10 municipal corporations have dealt a severe blow to the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), making many consider it as the biggest loser in the recently held polls in Maharashtra.
The party was ousted from power in four municipal corporations, including traditional strongholds Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. It also lost two other municipal corporations — Solapur and Amravati — where it was ruling in alliance with the Congress.
The NCP dropped from the first position to third in the zilla parishad elections, despite its supposedly strong rural base. This has raised questions whether the party, which was at the helm of the state for 15 years (until 2014), can even survive.
An analysis of the data made available by the state election commission (SEC) reveals that the NCP has lost the same number of seats it won in the 10 municipal corporation polls. In the previous elections held in 2012, the party had won 266 seats. However, this time its tally came down to 137 seats — a loss of 129 seats.
Similarly, the party won 336 seats in the zilla parishad elections this time, as compared to 511 in 2012. The NCP lost as many as 175 seats in this segment.
The party fared poorly in western Maharashtra, even though the region is considered its traditional stronghold. Despite being the hometown of the Pawar family, the party lost power in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri-Chinchwad. It managed to get just 38 seats in the PMC and 36 seats at Pimpri-Chinchwad, suffering a net loss of 60 seats.
The zilla parishad poll results reveal that the party’s performance left a lot to be desired. The drubbing was especially acute in Sangli, where the NCP obtained just 14 of 60 seats as opposed to 33 in 2012. The latest figures provided by the SEC showed that the party lost seats at every zilla parishad, with the exception of Osmanabad district.
Experts say the party will have its task cut out in the upcoming state assembly elections. “The NCP will have to work hard to bring itself back into the game,” said Pratap Asbe, a political analyst.
He said the social unrest that took place in the state over the last few months — against the backdrop of the Maratha agitation — hampered the party’s prospects. “It seems like the Dalit, OBC and Brahmin communities erroneously believed that the NCP was behind the Maratha movement, and therefore voted against it,” said Asbe.
However, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said lack of unity in the opposition had resulted in the party’s electoral fiasco. “Victory and defeat are part of electoral politics. We have to accept the people’s mandate. Right now, I only can only attribute this development to the Congress and the NCP failing to present a united opposition,” he added.