Pawar sets sight on 2014 elections

Rift fallout: NCP trying to emerge out of Cong shadow in Mrashtra

The wily old fox of Maharashtra politics Sharad Pawar is once more at his game which he knows best: keeping his allies and foes always on their toes.

In his latest salvo, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief hurled a bolt from the blue first at UPA and then at his real target-Maharashtra. The crisis that has engulfed Maharashtra Democratic Front alliance for the past one week, is a smokescreen ignited by NCP keeping 2014 state assembly elections in sight.

While, at the Centre, Pawar may be wanting to wriggle out of the agriculture portfolio in wake of poor monsoon and possible dismal agrarian scenario, in Maharashtra the ball of intrigue he has set rolling has a different purpose altogether.
NCP, which has its power base in the state, is tired of playing a younger-brother to the Congress, which despite its waning popularity, behaves superciliously when it comes to sharing of power.

NCP since January has been surfing and basking in the victories gleaned in local body elections. The Congress fared badly in most of the places, barring Marathwada where it managed to give a jolt to both BJP and its ally NCP.

However, NCP's overall performance in the local self-government bodies, revealed that it has managed to expand its base out from its traditional western Maharashtra region and has driven roots deep into the state's ruling class-caste combine.

Political analysts feel that while on surface it may seem that Pawar's latest needling is to get rid of Congress leader and state Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, the fact of the matter is that his strategy is that 'of a slow fuse that will burn slowly till 2014; and if calculations go in party's favour then he (Pawar) will make NCP's man ride the CM's saddle.”

Long-term strategy

Taking this cue further, a senior Congress leader out of power, pointed out that when western Maharashtra fields were slowly gearing themselves to face a scorching summer, the newspapers and news channels by mid-May were flooded and inundated with alarming news reports of the drought-like situation in interiors.

The Congress party here, despite Pawar holding the agriculture portfolio at the Centre, found itself saddled with an image of being a cold and indifferent ruler; NCP leaders on the other hand emerged as knights fighting for peasantry class in the rural heartland.

Political veterans, however, believe that the NCP leader created Maharashtra crisis to get him, his daughter and other party leaders a better deal at the Centre; and also sanctions for water projects falling in NCP-won constituencies which would help the party in the two-year long race ahead.


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