The Nationalist Congress Party may have escalated its criticism of the BJP-led government in Maharashtra, but top leaders from both sides are working to ensure the parties stay close ahead of the polls.
This is evident with PM Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to the Vasantdada Sugar Institute (VSI), an autonomous cane growers body with NCP chief Sharad Pawar as its president. Modi is to attend the opening ceremony of the International Conference on Sugar at the institute in Manjri near Pune on November 13.
This is the second time in two years that Modi will visit an institution headed by Pawar. In February 2015, Modi visited Baramati, Pawar’s hometown, to inaugurate a Krishi Vigyan Kendra building. He went on to have lunch at Pawar’s home. The visit had many in political circles sit up and take note.
Sources said Pawar’s recent meeting with Modi in Delhi was, among other things, about inviting him for the November 13 event.
With the PM in the city, the local BJP unit wants to get him to talk to party workers to galvanise the cadre ahead of the civic body elections scheduled for early next year, but sources said the district administration is yet to give its nod as the code of conduct ahead of the November 19 legislative council elections is already in place.
BJP leaders on Friday met the district administration, which referred the matter to the State Election Commission. Sources said while the EC has given permission for the PM’s visit to the institute, the administration has asked the BJP to wait until Saturday for the panel’s response to the local unit’s request.
According to EC sources, with the model code of conduct in place, the PM will not be able to make any announcement that will influence voters. District guardian minister and state minister for Parliamentary affairs Girish Bapat and Pune BJP chief Yogesh Gogawale had on October 28 asked permission from the collector for the public address by the PM.