NCP hits the ground running before Maharashtra assembly polls
With an eye on the assembly polls due in October, NCP chief Sharad Pawar has been touring the state.Updated: Jul 15, 2019 07:45 IST
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar visited Tiware Bendewadi days after the Tiware Dam in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district breached and swept away 19 people t on July 2. He followed this up with a detailed letter to Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, listing the problems in disaster relief measures and sought more compensation for those hit by the breach.
This was not a one-off visit by the 79-year-old. With an eye on the assembly polls due in October, the NCP chief has been touring the state. Pawar started his visits to drought-hit areas across the state two days after the Lok Sabha results were announced on May 23.
In contrast, there appeared to be no clarity about who would lead the Congress in the Maharashtra assembly until three days before the last session of the House began on June 17. The Congress on Saturday named Balasaheb Thorat as the new state chief along with four other executive presidents. It also set up several committees accommodating a majority of the party leaders for handling various aspects of the polls.
A Congress leader admitted there was confusion in the party. “Instead of regrouping post the Lok Sabha debacle, our party seems more fragmented. There is also suspicion that more legislators will switch to the BJP.
On the other hand, the NCP is learnt to have finalised many of its candidates as well as its strategy for the polls. There seems little doubt the NCP will play hard ball during seat sharing talks with the Congress. The two parties had contested separately in the 2014 state elections, but prior to that the Congress had a bigger seat share (174) than the NCP (114). The Congress could now be willing to share seats 50:50, but senior NCP leaders said they expected more. “On July 16, we have a meeting with NCP to discuss seat sharing,” former Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan said.
Political analyst Abhay Deshpande said NCP will want more seats than Congress. “ While the NCP is at a disadvantage in urban areas it has managed to keep its base intact in rural parts. It also has more second rung leaders mentored by Pawar and capable of holding on to their constituencies as against the Congress.”