Round one goes to NCP
The opening day of the State Legislature's Winter Session was quite dramatic with MLAs from the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appeared with cotton glued to their caps, baskets full of cotton and cotton plants. As the State Assembly took up the day's business, BJP-Shiv Sena started shouting slogans, demanding a higher price for the principal crop from the Vidarbha region. They even tried gifting cotton to the CM, who politely declined their gift.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar
Amidst the din, Speaker Dilip Walse Patil adjourned the House for 60 minutes that took away the most important question hour of the day. The booklet with 74 questions and its replies cannot be reported, as it was laid before the House. It had over half a dozen questions related to infrastructure development in Mumbai, state's response on upgrading the police force in the metropolis and so on.
The mood at Vidhan Bhavan was overshadowed by the results of the municipal elections. With each result, the tally of NCP and Congress was going up, leaving BJP and Shiv Sena MLAs in despair. By afternoon, the mood in the NCP camp was upbeat and the tally was the birthday gift for their party chief Sharad Pawar. Though it was Gopinath Munde's birthday too, BJP had nothing significant to offer him. The reports of Industries Minister Narayan Rane controlled civic bodies going in favour of NCP and local fronts, proved as the only solace for the Shiv Sena camp. Though BJP Chief Nitin Gadkari was present at Vidhan Bhavan when the results were coming in, he refused to comment.
By late afternoon, almost all the NCP ministers were on their way to Delhi to greet Pawar on his birthday. At least two chartered planes took off for the capital with Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Home Minister R R Patil, PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and others. Yesterday's results will certainly strengthen Ajit Pawar's position, who is eyeing the upcoming Assembly elections.
Pawar junior had taken the civic polls seriously and took it as an opportunity to show his clout in the party and its ministers. He had asked NCP ministers to camp at their respective districts to ensure maximum wins.
Now, the way BJP and Shiv Sena is getting weakened by each day, talks are doing rounds that NCP should fight the next elections single-handedly and that the party has chances to attain power on its own.