Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar's decision to usher in the third generation leaders to handle the crucial 2014 polls has raised several eyebrows even in his own party.
The selection of former minister of state Bhaskar Jadhav and Mumbra legislator Jitendra Awhad is not without its share of critics. Many are worried that Jadhav is likely to create more controversies than quell them.
While several party leaders including deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar's faction are not convinced with the decision to put Jadhav at the top, Pawar in his address to the party cadre made it clear that everyone will have accept the new party presidents.
“Jadhav is not someone who can take everyone along. For instance, he and Awhad may not see eye to eye and senior ministers are unlikely to fall in line with them,” said a senior party leader.
Sources in the party said the decision taken by Pawar, who is known for his calculated moves, is to keep his nephew Ajit in check. But more importantly both Jadhav and Awhad represent Konkan and the Mumbai metropolitan region (MMR) that has nearly 60 assembly seats and around 12 Lok Sabha seats.
For the NCP stuck on a total of 8 MPs for the past two elections, 2014 is a ‘do or die’ year, with the party eyeing a target of 15 MPs. In this scenario, a push from Konkan and MMR can help the party increase its seat tally, especially since Western Maharashtra is the party's bastion and Marathwada is adequately represented in the cabinet.
Pawar’s GenNext leaders also balance out caste equations with Jadhav being a Maratha and Awhad an OBC leader.
The bid to get younger leadership to the fore is also to combat the MNS, which is seen as a youth magnate, and the appointment of Devendra Fadnavis as the BJP state president.
“Even in the cabinet reshuffle, NCP focused on its core areas and strengths. So instead of pushing for leadership from say Vidarbha, we would rather give boost to Konkan and Thane where we have done well and can do better," said a party leader.