At 19, NCP hopes to recover lost ground with Bhujbal’s comeback
The recent win in the Bhandara-Gondia bypolls has enthused the party leaders, who believe the party can pose a major challenge to BJP over issues currently faced by farmers, one of the reasons leading to BJP’s loss in polls.pune Updated: Jun 11, 2018 15:05 IST
As it celebrated its 19th anniversary on Sunday at a public rally in Pune, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) looks stronger than it was four years ago.
In 2014, the party lost power both at the Centre, where it was a member of the ruling United Progressive Alliance(UPA), and at the state level. This situation seemed to signal tough times ahead for the party. This was followed by some of the senior party leaders facing serious allegations of corruption.
However, with Chhagan Bhujbal back in the fold after his release from jail on bail last month,NCP is now looking to recover lost ground amid talks of an alliance with the Congress.
By participating in the NCP rally, Bhujbal has put to rest, at least temporarily, speculations over his “uneasiness” in the party.
According to political analysts, the response to the recent ‘halla bol’ (raise your voice) campaign by the party throughout the state, is showing that the NCP is regaining lost support which had gone to the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) during the 2014 elections.
“The party has given direction to the farmers’ distress through its ‘halla bol’ march. The comeback of Bhujbal may help the party bring back the OBC base,” said Prakash Pawar, professor of political science at Shivaji University.
The recent win in the Bhandara-Gondia bypolls has enthused the party leaders, who believe the party can pose a major challenge to BJP over issues currently faced by farmers, one of the reasons leading to BJP’s loss in polls.
Taking this thread, senior party leader and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said that recent developments have shown the wind has started blowing in the other direction. “The hava (wind) is changing. The atmosphere is changing,” Ajit said at the party’s rally. Ajit is now being projected as chief ministerial candidate for 2019 assembly elections by the party.
While NCP has got some boost in recent polls, the party still has some challenges ahead. Allegations of scam against senior leaders has hit NCP’s image and party has not been able to come out of it well. Party leaders said that with Congress not having recovered fully, it stands a good chance to emerge as a major challenge to BJP. However the allegations of taint is a main hurdle to regain the lost glory, added senior leader.
Knowing well that NCP could be a bigger challenge in Maharashtra than the Congress, the BJP has also made changes in its strategy with its first target being Pawar.
BJP chief Amit Shah during his Mumbai visit on April 6 targeted the NCP, while Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis was also aggressively anti-Pawar.
Pawar’s attempts to mobilise the opposition against the BJP seems to be bearing fruit, at least in terms of helping him consolidate his space politically.