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Will Pawar, Sonia share dais

NCP chief Sharad Pawar is under pressure to campaign alongside Sonia Gandhi. Reason: While proximity to Pawar made electoral fortunes swing earlier, this time Gandhi seems to be biggest crowd-puller.

india Updated: Mar 26, 2004 19:00 IST

NCP chief Sharad Pawar is under pressure to campaign alongside Sonia Gandhi. The reason: while proximity to Pawar made electoral fortunes swing earlier, this time the Congress chief seems to be the biggest crowd-puller.

Many NCP candidates think their constituencies need a visit from Sonia. They feel Pawar on his own can’t swing more than six seats.

Sonia is expected in Maharashtra soon for a road show. And NCP leaders say Pawar must join her. “Now that we’ve said her foreign origin won’t be an issue, there’s no reason for them to stay apart,” says minister R.R. Patil.

Congress leaders echo the sentiment. “If Sonia is no longer the issue, Pawar should have no differences with us,” says former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

Before the Congress split, it got 38 out of the 48 seats in the state. Besides, as an NCP MLA says: “Initially, we praised Sonia. Then we abused her. Now it’ll be difficult to explain why we’ve reverted to the old position. Their being seen together will eliminate that embarrassment.”

First Published: Mar 19, 2004 12:54 IST