Sharad Pawar to assess LS poll preparedness, probable candidates

In a meeting earlier this year, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar had asked members to be ready for Lok Sabha elections. Now, the union agriculture minister is all set to take stock of the situation during a two-day convention with the party’s office bearers starting today.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar

If held on schedule, the general elections are still 10 months away. However, the buzz in the corridors of power is that there’s a chance they may be advanced to November-December this year. NCP isn’t discounting this as mere fluff, as it wants to increase its tally from the present 8 MPs to at least 15.

Pawar has called party’s union and state cabinet ministers to Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s official residence Deogiri at Malabar Hill today. Party MPs too have been asked to partake in the meeting. In the second phase on Saturday, Pawar will appraise the party’s preparedness during a daylong meeting at the Nariman Point office.

Here, each of the 22 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state, which NCP contested in the 2009 general elections, will be evaluated separately. For this purpose, district guardian ministers, MPs, MLAs, local and civic body chiefs, district unit chiefs and prominent office bearers have been invited.

Knotty ties
Meanwhile, as NCP is all set to contest Lok Sabha elections jointly with Congress – its alliance partner since 1999 – it may be asked to snap ties with BJP and Shiv Sena in five Zilla Parishads. NCP has aligned with the saffron parties to keep Congress out of power and this has emerged as a bone of contention ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. Sources say, Congress leaders may ask NCP to announce its breakup with the saffron combine before starting alliance talks. On the other hand, NCP may ask Congress to end its partnership with Shiv Sena, at a few places, such as Osmanabad Zilla Parishad.

No of NCP Lok Sabha MPs 

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