NCP supremo Sharad Pawar considers return to Lok Sabha this year

Updated: Feb 09, 2019, 14:07 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

Sharad Pawar's re-entry to the electoral fray is expected to boost the morale of the party's rank and file

Sharad Pawar
Sharad Pawar

Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar is expected to return to the direct electoral fray in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. Pawar, whose Rajya Sabha term ends next year, said he could contest from Madha, which he represented between 2009 and 2014.

Pawar said after a review meeting in Pune that Madha's sitting MP Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil had requested him to represent the party. Mohite-Patil took the seat after Pawar decided not to contest Lok Sabha polls. In 2009, Pawar had shifted to Madha from Baramati, which went to his daughter Supriya Sule. The NCP won four seats in 2014, adding Bhandara-Gondia in a by-election last year.

"Mohite-Patil has demanded that I contest from Madha," said Pawar. "I will give it a thought." The party chief was holed up in Baramati Hostel on Friday discussing electoral prospects in the state with focus on western Maharashtra, where it gained in the last elections, and expects to do even better this time. The party has been convincing senior leaders with electoral merit to contest Lok Sabha polls.

The Pawar boost
Pawar, 78, may not have opened his cards yet, but the party has been demanding Pune from the Congress for his candidature. It was said Pawar would be able to wrest the metro from the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has the sole MP and all eight MLAs. But the Congress has not conceded to NCP's demand.

A senior NCP leader said that in a current political situation, Pawar's Lok Sabha candidature should boost the party's prospects in the state where it, in association with the Congress and smaller allies, hopes to turn the tables on the BJP. The party's rank and file was disappointed in 2014 when Pawar had refused to contest.

"The post-poll projections are blurred," said an NCP legislator. "Many people foresee a fractured mandate. There will be a need for an excellent negotiator like Pawar to handle the non-BJP leaders. He can be a peacemaker as well as troublemaker. His unpredictable ways have always made Indian politics interesting and he should play a crucial role if there is a rainbow coalition."

But when Pawar could play this role even as a Rajya Sabha MP, why does he need to go back on his decision to retire from electoral politics? Another NCP leader put things in perspective. "Pawar is seen as a definite winner," he said. "Every seat would matter. Pawar's presence in the electoral field will boost the NCP's rank and file."

Grandnephew from Maval?
Party insiders said that Ajit's son Parth could contest Maval and Supriya Sule from Baramati, thus putting three from the family in the fray, if Pawar contests from Madha.

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