To counter the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s popularity with the young, the Nationalist Congress Party is looking for young leadership to revitalise its state youth wing.
Led by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, the party has not done well in the elections, winning fewer seats in the state Assembly and Lok Sabha polls than it did in 2004. Within its ranks, it is felt that the party failed to stay tuned to the youth of the state.
Now, the NCP is looking for a youth leader to head its state youth wing. The existing youth wing was dissolved last month, but the search for fresh leadership has made little progress.
“Our existing youth body didn’t do as well as expected. We are looking for a more dynamic and aggressive leadership, but our hunt for fresh leadership has ended within the homes of our existing leaders,’’ said an NCP functionary, requesting anonymity.
He was speaking of the preference within the NCP to simply install existing leaders’ younger family members, including Sangram Kupekar, former speaker Babasaheb Kupekar’s son, Dhairyasheel Mane, former MP Nivedita Mane’s son, and Salil Deshmukh, Food and Civil Supplies minister Anil Deshmukh’s son. All three are active in local politics.
And this is not a new trend for the NCP. Many of its heavyweights have used the party to introduce their family into politics. Public Works Minister Chhagan Bhujbal’s son Pankaj is party MLA, his nephew Sameer, party MP. Excise Minister Ganesh Naik’s son Sanjiv is party MP, senior leader Vijay Sinh Mohite Patil’s son Ranjit is a party MLC.
State Finance Minister Sunil Tatkare’s son is likely to get nominated as party MLC from the Konkan in the upcoming elections. “To launch yourself in politics, you need money, power and mass base, which also applies for a youth leader – the party cannot sponsor all its youth activities. Most of these family politicians have that readymade,” the functionary added.
Party spokesperson Madan Bafna countered that, saying: “The existing youth body has been dissolved and the party is looking to revitalise its youth leadership. No decision has been taken on who the youth body president will be.”
The current NCP youth unit president is Mahesh Tapase, who will continue to hold charge until a fresh announcement is made – that is likely to happen at its national conclave at Lonavala next week.