Battle for survival looms for NCP
With just four seats in the Lok Sabha elections 2019, the Sharad Pawar-led NCP has failed to make any progress in the state. After its reversal in 2014, the party has failed to bounce back in this poll and is now facing a bigger battle for survival in the upcoming Assembly elections scheduled within six months. Political experts believe that reviving the party’s position in the Assembly elections would be an uphill task for its leadership, considering its present position.
Another challenge the party is likely to face is to refrain its legislators and other senior leaders from switching to ruling parties. Only this week, the party lost its Beed MLA Jaydutt Kshirsagar, who joined Shiv Sena. Ranjitsinh Mohite Patil, former Rajya Sabha MP has already joined BJP. His father and NCP stalwart Vijaysinh Mohite Patil is also likely to join BJP soon.
NCP leaders believe that their hobnobbing with BJP for four years and later criticising them over issues was rejected by the people. A section of NCP leaders are also of the view that the people have voted BJP and its allies in the name of “Hindu Nationalism”, which overshadowed every other issue and it will be difficult for them to fight that.
On Friday, the state NCP chief Jayant Patil has expressed suspicion over electronic voting machines (EVM). He said that the poll results are shocking and even their candidates have doubt over the counting process. “Our defeat in the polls is understandable, but the defeat in all polling booths is hard to believe. Even our candidates are expressing doubt over the counting process. We are studying the poll results,” he said.
Since 2009, the party’s vote share in the Lok Sabha is reducing every election. In this poll, it has come down to 15.5% from 16.12% in 2014, which is not a good sign for the party. In 2009, the vote percentage of the party was 19.28%.
Meanwhile, Pawar has decided to resume his tour of drought-affected areas from Saturday. In the two-day tour, he will be visiting drought-hit villages of Satara and Pune district, said a senior NCP functionary. His tour assumes significance, considering it would become a poll issue in the coming state Assembly elections. Pawar has already toured many districts of the state where he interacted with villagers and has also met CM Devendra Fadnavis with a charter of demands for mitigation measures.
“With the poll result, people have questioned our credibility. They have rejected our strategy of hobnobbing with BJP leaders, including the top brass for four years, and just a year before general polls start, criticising the same people. For us, it’s high time to introspect,” said a senior NCP leader, requesting anonymity.
Patil said, “The BJP-Sena combine got the lead in 225 Assembly segments in this polls, but we are confident that the people of Maharashtra knows whom to elect to Delhi and whom to vote for in the state.”
“It is a fact that NCP has maintained its tally of 2014, despite an adverse situation. This means, the coming state Assembly elections will also be very tough for them. However, the NCP leadership is capable of tackling such a scenario. They can maintain its tally of 2014 and even get more than that as you must be aware of that NCP chief is again resuming his drought tour,” said political analyst Pratap Aasbe.
Currently, NCP has 41 seats in the state Assembly, which is 21 less than its tally in 2009 (62 seats).
“The positive side of the story for NCP is that it is now in a better position than Congress and can bargain for better number of seats for contesting the state Assembly polls together. NCP can also emerge as a bigger party than Congress in Maharashtra,” said another analyst, Abhay Deshpande.