Strike one for NCP supremo Pawar

Updated: Mar 15, 2019, 12:46 IST | Dharmendra Jore

Sharad Pawar recalled his rivalry with the Vikhe Patils, and refused a ticket to scion Sujay, putting his father Radhakrishna under pressure from detractors within the Congress

Strike one for NCP supremo Pawar
Sharad Pawar

It seems a ruthless Sharad Pawar has struck back with vengeance, settling old scores with some Congress leaders, and unsettling the core UPA partner. Even as he himself faces a tough time in his family over political ambitions of grandnephews, Pawar has ensured that other political families with a potential are divided, and exposed to public scrutiny ahead of Lok Sabha polls.

Old rivalry

Latest in the list of Pawar's victims is the Vikhe Patil family. In fact, the Vikhe Patils have had a taste of Pawar's machinations in the past when late Balasaheb Vikhe Patil had rebelled against Congress when denied a ticket. He had lost the seat, but then dragged Pawar and others to court accusing them of defamatory election speeches. The High court had ruled in his favour and taken Pawar's voting rights away for six years. However, Pawar won the case in the Supreme Court and got his right to vote restored. The rivalry was mentioned specifically by Pawar when he denied Vikhe Patil's grandson, Sujay, the Ahmednagar seat. He recalled the past challenging the Vikhe Patils to defeat his man. This fiery statement added fuel to the fire and Sujay reached the BJP's doorstep.

And this is where the senior Vikhe Patil landed in a situation that could not be explained convincingly to Congress bosses. Embarrassed about his son's adventure and angry with Pawar's unwarranted recall, Radhakrishna is now under further pressure from detractors within the Congress who want him to explain his position. Some people have demanded his resignation and disciplinary action. Radhakrishna slammed Pawar over the reference made to his late father. "He showed a deep hatred for our family by making remarks about a person who is long dead. I'm deeply hurt," he said.

'Won't campaign'

Will Radhakrishna campaign for his son or alliance partner NCP's candidate in Ahmednagar? The leader said he won't campaign in Ahmednagar at all. Pawar's party will now be free to blame anything and everything that goes wrong for the UPA on the Vikhe Patil father-son duo. Sources said Radhakrishna would skip constituencies that are contested by NCP.

Unsettling of the Congress

However, the Vikhe Patil senior's loyalty to the Congress will be at stake in neighbouring Shirdi where the Congress will fight against NDA. The failure here again would undoubtedly be blamed on the Vikhe Patil family which is accused of being over-friendly with the BJP since Radhakrishna became opposition leader in the assembly. If the situation demands, Radhakrishna may choose the BJP as his next stop. His and his late father's precious party, Shiv Sena, has offered him to join it.

The Sena mouthpiece published that Radhakrishna has resigned from the Congress, the news the leader denied on Thursday. State Congress president, Ashok Chavan whose father and ex-CM Shankarrao Chavan was mentor to Radhakrishna's father, said he hasn't asked for the Assembly opposition leader's resignation.

What if Vikhe Patil quits the Congress anytime soon, before or after Lok Sabha polls? The NCP's chances of getting the opposition leader in the Assembly get even brighter. With a marginal difference between their respective strength in the lower house, the NCP may always try to get the coveted post. Pawar has won the first round. The coming rounds will decide the championship of Ahmednagar district.

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