Last week NCP chief Sharad Pawar ostensibly asked his party cadre to be prepared for midterm polls, setting the cat among the pigeons in the state political circle. Pawar’s words are always held in high regard by politicos because of his sheer acumen and competence to change equations. The maverick leader later said he was misquoted by the media and any political party should always remain geared up to face polls.
Focusing on the national political scenario, UP satraps SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati, too have dropped hints pertaining to possible midterm polls asking respective party workers to pull up their socks. Pawar shares a good rapport with both the leaders. There is speculation that a third front — as an alternative to Congress and BJP — could emerge at the national level with the support of Mulayam and Pawar.
While Pawar has blamed the media for misconstruing the words he uttered during his party’s national executive meet in Baroda, preparations by NCP’s state unit to handle early elections are already underway. The state assembly polls always take place five months after the general elections. But some netas are apprehensive that this time both events may clash.
If general elections were to take place next year and the state goes to polls as well, it seems leaders from both Congress and NCP would want to go it alone. Congress ministers have been asked to attend janta darbars at as many places in the state as possible. MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre has been touring many areas and holding local level meetings of all frontal organisations and wings of the party. Even MPs have reportedly been directed to utilise most of their local area development funds provided by the Centre.
All this has left Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan a very busy man. Since some of his past decisions have not gone down too well with ally NCP, Chavan is trying to make amends. He is also working overtime to focus on issues that may help him and his party in the polls. For instance, he has been trying to hammer out a solution with regard to the housing issue of mill workers — still a potent force in Mumbai politics. Workers who have left the city in the past years, because of lack of employment, have mainly settled down in the Konkan belt and areas like Pune and Satara, the latter is the home district of Chavan.
To add to the list, the CM is also engaged in eliminating obstacles hindering work on the ambitious Navi Mumbai international airport. A package of 22.5 per cent developed land for the project-affected farmers may be announced soon.
NCP supporters have been conjecturing for some time now all the revelations related to scams that have put the spotlight on NCP leaders have the blessings of the CM. The resignation by Ajit Pawar was aimed at putting Congress in a spot, say sources.
Congress leadership in the state is reportedly establishing its own links in the opposition camps, trying to ensure that they do not accept any offer of friendship from NCP. Efforts are also underway to create a bulwark for future times when the party or some of its men in the state find themselves embroiled in a controversy — much like their colleagues at the Centre.
Meanwhile, the MNS seems to be taking a breather after some shrill campaigns as party chief Raj Thackeray is in a stay-at-home mode. Both Shiv Sena and MNS are currently enjoying a family reunion and may eventually come together at the instance of family patriarch Bal Thackeray. BJP leaders on the other hand are full of life and very vocal on the irrigation scam. The party has recently announced officially that old guard Gopinath Munde will lead it in the next elections. By doing so, BJP has acknowledged that it has failed to find or groom a younger leader. But the situation isn’t very different for other parties.
The writer is Political Editor, MiD DAY