NCP’s dilemma: Congress or BJP; Ajit or Supriya?
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NCP’s dilemma: Congress or BJP; Ajit or Supriya?

The speculations are back now following Saamana executive editor Sanjay Raut’s claim in his Sunday column

mumbai Updated: Sep 12, 2017 01:09 IST
Shailesh Gaikwad
Shailesh Gaikwad
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Supriya Sule,Nationalist Congress Party
NCP leader Supriya Sule(HT FILE)

For the past few weeks, especially since the Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections took place in August, there have been speculations that Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is likely to join hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Soon after the elections that saw senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel barely managing to get elected to the Rajya Sabha from his home state, the Congress bitterly raised doubts over the NCP’s support to him.

While the NCP insisted that its two Gujarat MLAs voted for Congress nominee, the Congress did not believe in it. In fact, one of the two MLAs himself announced that he voted for the BJP. The entire episode had then led to speculations whether the NCP would join the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance though senior party leader Praful Patel was quick to deny the same.

The speculations are back now following Saamana executive editor Sanjay Raut’s claim in his Sunday column in the Sena mouthpiece that Modi had offered a ministerial post to Pawar’s daughter and NCP MP Supriya Sule but the latter had denied it.

Sule had even said she would be the last person to join the BJP cabinet, Raut has written by quoting none other than senior Pawar. Sule has denied any such meeting took place while Pawar has not commented on it yet. It is well-known within the NCP and Shiv Sena circles that Pawar and Raut enjoy cordial relations. As such, the revelation has raised eyebrows in the political circles with several in the NCP wondering what would be the next move of the party leadership if Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen on keeping the NCP on his

It is no secret that the BJP is giving Pawar a lot of importance even though the party had targeted him during the election campaign.

Modi went on record to say how the NCP chief has been a good friend and even guided him on occasions.

Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday praised Pawar for ‘putting interest of the nation ahead of politics’.

In the past three years, PM Modi as well as several top ministers in the Union government have participated in functions at Pawar’s hometown Baramati. Considering this, Pawar should have been in the NDA camp by now. However, he continues to keep everyone guessing.

A few senior leaders in the NCP also seek attention to other obvious debate in the party: Is Supriya going to be the face of the party?

For past few years, there have been speculations in the party whether nephew Ajit will be anointed as the political heir of Pawar or will it be daughter Supriya?

Ajit has been the one who is handling the party organisation for several years. Brash and aggressive, he is also seen as a go to person in the party over handling election management. He has also experience of handling administration in the state.

Supriya on the other hand is seen as party’s urban and urbane face.

Her organizational skills are yet to be put to test. Like her father, she is suave, can be comfortable both with urban and rural masses and has cordial relations with national leaders in Delhi. Ajit’s image is more like say MK Stalin of DMK in Tamil Nadu or Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh.

Significantly, for the past two-three years, Ajit is keeping a low profile following the setback he suffered after his name popped up in the irrigation scam. At the same time, Supriya has been travelling across the state and trying to connect with the masses. But then, will one of them be put forth as the political heir of Pawar or the party leadership will keep it issue vague?

Though she is occasionally projected as the party’s frontline leader, will there be a definite move to put her forth as the fresh face of the NCP? Or just like the first question—Congress or BJP—the dilemma will continue over this one too?

First Published: Sep 12, 2017 01:09 IST