The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) may be a national party but it remains mainly regional in nature. That hasn't prevented it from launching a chapter in North America at a convention in New York, entering a territory where just the big players like the Congress and BJP have operated before.
However, unlike the non-profit nature of the overseas branches of the other two parties, the NCP's American venture is all business.
NCP North America Inc was formally launched by party president and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar. And he was clear this new outfit will be apolitical in nature: "The NCP will work politically in India but outside India, our total approach will be 'We are Indians first'. And whatever the problems the Indian community is facing, if it wants a platform through the NCP, the NCP will be happy to provide that platform."
NCP North America Inc will have three chapters — in New York, Washington and Houston. It was launched at a convention at a hotel in Times Square. Among those who attended were Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and Maharashtra deputy CM Chhagan Bhujbal.
The members of this new organisation see it working mainly with Indian-American entrepreneurs, regardless of party affiliation.
As NCP North America's general secretary Lal Dadlaney said: "We are a business lobby." He also made it clear that this was a "capitalist" enterprise that will help businessmen who may not have political contacts in India, "navigate" the terrain there.
The North American chapter already claims to have nearly 1,000 members who have paid the $25 subscription. But as the convention cost nearly half-a-million dollars.