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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Why Sharad Pawar’s aides are deserting the NCP in droves? | Analysis

The defections are happening in the Congress too but they are mostly legislators or middle level leaders. However, the NCP has seen exodus of senior leaders, many of whom were long time aides of Pawar or nurtured by the Maratha strongman.

analysis Updated: Sep 13, 2019 19:40 IST
Shailesh Gaikwad
Shailesh Gaikwad
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar
Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar (HT Photo)
         

Ahead of the elections, several frontline leaders of Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have been shifting to the ruling BJP or Shiv Sena.

The defections are happening in the Congress too but they are mostly legislators or middle level leaders (except Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and Harshvardhan Patil). However, the NCP has seen exodus of senior leaders, many of whom were long time aides of Pawar or nurtured by the Maratha strongman.

Prominent among those who have defected to ruling parties are: former deputy chief minister Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil (who quit with his son Ranjitsinh ahead of the Lok Sabha elections), former ministers Padmasinh Patil and Madhukar Pichad, Navi Mumbai strongman Ganesh Naik, Sachin Ahir who was party’s face in Mumbai, Chitra Wagh, who was heading women’s wing of the party, former minister Bhaskar Jadhav. Former minister Jaidutt Kshirsagar and former MP Nivedita Mane were also among those who had quit the party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Party’s Satara MP Udayanraje Bhonsle is joining the BJP on Saturday while chairman of state legislative council, Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar, is likely to join the Shiv Sena soon.

While most of them benefited as the NCP was in power from 1999 to 2014, it is surprising to see even the likes of Padmasinh Patil, Madhukar Pichad and Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil, who were among the founders of the NCP, quitting the party.

Patil is from Osmanabad in Marathwada (central Maharashtra). He was not just a relative but a close confidant of Pawar. He was state president of Congress (S) that Pawar had formed after he quit Congress for the first time. Pichad, a tribal leader from Ahmednagar in north Maharashtra, was handpicked by Pawar to lead the opposition in the assembly when the Congress lost power to the Shiv Sena-BJP combine in 1995. Mohite-Patil, a heavyweight from Solapur in western Maharashtra, threw his weight behind Pawar when he decided to quit the Congress after Pawar quit the party for the second time and formed NCP.

Another close Pawar aide and chairman of state legislative council, Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar, is likely to join the Shiv Sena soon. In past two-three decades, these senior leaders stood by Pawar and the latter rewarded them with ministerial berths and lucrative portfolios. Even if the party lost power in 2014, they remained loyal to Pawar during last five years. So why are they leaving the Pawar camp one by one?

There are a few reasons behind such an exodus.

A major reason is the compulsion to maintain their fiefdoms. Unlike other parties, the NCP is a party full of leaders who can get elected on their own. They have their local fiefdoms in the form of cooperative sugar factories or banks or other units. They need to be on the right side of the power to maintain the same. They somehow managed without power for five years but now with no signs of NCP returning to power, they have lost patience.

Few of them have strong local rivals breathing down their neck while some others are worried about the ongoing inquiries into the alleged irregularities in cooperative bodies they have been controlling. For them, shifting to the ruling parties is more of compulsion than choice. According to NCP insiders, a couple of the leaders even met Pawar and told them so before hopping on to the BJP bandwagon.

So does that mean it is the end of the road for the Pawar-led party?

In politics, one can never write off any political party though the NCP seems to be in bad shape now.

First Published: Sep 13, 2019 19:17 IST