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'Get set for general elections this year'

It may just be a coincidence that both the Nationalist Congress Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party one the ruling Congress’s coalition partner and the other its supporter from outside have asked their cadres to hitch up preparations for general election. But political wisdom dictates otherwise.

Sharad Pawar
Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar

While NCP chief Sharad Pawar asked his ministers at a meeting in Mumbai yesterday to be ready for the Lok Sabha polls, BSP supremo Mayawati rallied her party leaders in Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow because elections can happen anytime this year, sources from the parties reported their top bosses as saying.

In Maharashtra, however, what has left NCP leaders baffled is that for the first time, Pawar, known for his uncanny knack for divining political developments, said there was uncertainty over the Lok Sabha elections. “Whether the election will be announced soon after the presentation of the Union budget or in early winter months this year cannot be predicted now,” Pawar is believed to have told his ministers at the meeting held at deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s official residence on Narayan Dabholkar Road at Malabar Hill.

Mayawati
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati

“Nothing can be said as of now. Even state assembly elections can be advanced. The Congress can fight these elections on its own, ignoring the alliance partners. Accordingly, (NCP) ministers should now concentrate on the drought-like situation prevailing in 13 districts of the state,” Pawar is believed to have said.

Party stronghold of western Maharashtra is affected the most, followed by districts from Marathwada. A team from the Centre recently toured the state to assess the water situation. According to an NCP leader, Pawar wants the presence of his party leaders and ministers in these scarcity-hit areas to help NCP maintain its grip in the regions, and prevent any anti-incumbent wave. In Lucknow, Mayawati also announced her party’s state-level convention for Maharashtra, scheduled to be held on February 17. She also held a meeting on January 3 and 4, asking party workers to kick off preparations for the general polls.

The state unit of the Congress, on the other hand, announced a meeting of party leaders and state and central cabinet ministers to assess the current political scenario in a meeting scheduled for January 9. Party general secretary Mukul Wasnik, party in-charge and general secretary Mohan Prakash and union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde are expected to attend a crucial meeting, a press release issued on Monday said. 

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