'Get set for Lok Sabha polls'

With early Lok Sabha elections not unlikely, and with the debate around who will be India’s next Prime Minister gaining momentum, words of wisdom coming from any senior leader is treated as the gospel truth by his followers. And, if the leader in question NCP chief is Sharad Pawar, this is even more the case. So, yesterday when he told his party ministers to be ready to face Lok Sabha polls, they promptly went into a huddle.

Pawar was chairing a two-day meeting of his party colleagues to assess the preparedness of the NCP cadre. While chairing the meeting of MPs and ministers at Deogiri, the official residence of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, he spoke about the need for ministers and popular leaders to be ready for polls. Even though he said it in a light-hearted way, ministers appeared rather tense, said an NCP office bearer.

The NCP has made it clear that it wants to fight the LS polls jointly with the Congress. So, the party is concentrating on 22 seats allocated to it during the 2009 general elections. Pawar added that the NCP’s tally should increase from the present eight. While Pawar’s word created some uneasy moments, Home Minister RR Patil tried to lighten the atmosphere by suggesting that many MPs are often sent back to states to take charge as ministers and vice versa.

Some members present in the meeting felt he was indicating that senior NCP ministers such as Chhagan Bhujbal, Jayant Patil, Sunil Tatkare, Anil Deshmukh, Manohar Naik and others may be asked to contest Lok Sabha polls. 

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