An unpromising union

first_imgThe Nationalist Congress Party is going through a difficult time ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly elections going by the erosion taking place in the party in the past few days. The Assembly polls are due in October. The NCP chief Sharad Pawar has alleged that the defection from his party to the BJP/ Shiv Sena was because of BJP’s manipulations. Added to that, while Pawar is trying to do some damage control, the Election Commission recently sent a notice to the NCP removing it from the list of national parties. Also Read – A special kind of bondPawar is a big and a formidable leader in Maharashtra politics but with decimated strength today. Only last week, the senior NCP leader Sachin Ahir joined Shiv Sena with much fanfare. Following that, the NCP women’s wing chief Chitra Wagh quit the party. Soon after, the NCP MLA from Akola Vaibhav Pichad left the party to join BJP. Narayan Rane is another who is likely to jump ship and BJP might not be averse to his joining the party. There are rumours that Chagan Bhujwal is likely to defect to BJP. Pawar attributes the erosion to the fact that some like to be part of government all their life and those are ones that are leaving the party. He has also accused BJP of misusing the probe agencies to coerce the NCP leaders to join the party. “I haven’t seen such blatant use of state machinery by any government. The misuse is of extreme level,” he said. Also Read – Insider threat managementThough Pawar claims that these defections do not worry him but with Assembly elections just a few weeks away, it does not auger well for a political party to face such erosion. Drawing comparison with the situation in 1989, Pawar claims: “I am not worried about any of the defections as I experienced a similar situation back in 1980 as CM. Of our total strength of 60 MLAs, only six remained (in Congress) while I was on an official foreign tour. In the subsequent election, all those who defected from the party got defeated and I got back all my 60 seats.” Pawar, being a shrewd politician, must have seen the decline coming for quite some time. It is the NCP, more than Congress, which has been hit by these defections. In fact, even before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, signals were visible. There was discontent in the party when he projected Ajit Pawar’s son Parth Pawar as the chief ministerial candidate, and to his dismay, with all the halo of the Pawar family, Parth could not even win the seat. Even Pawar’s daughter, Supriya Sule, did not have an easy time in the family pocket borough Baramati. Though Congress and NCP have agreed to fight in a coalition in the coming Assembly polls, things are not looking good for Congress too. Both parties are facing dilemma and problems. There is confusion at the top level in Congress after the resignation of party chief Rahul Gandhi two months ago. The party is yet to find a replacement. Things are drifting in Congress both at the state level and national level. There is erosion in Congress too. Those who are not sure of getting elected with the ticket of NCP or Congress are leaving and there are quite a few looking for greener pastures. The local party is facing a factional fight and indiscipline. There is no single command at the state level. Demoralisation has set in after the humiliating defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. After losing Karnataka last week, Congress is ruling only in Punjab, Puducherry, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. There was the talk of NCP merging with Congress soon after the recent Lok Sabha polls. But this died down though the subject was discussed between Pawar and Rahul Gandhi after the poll debacle to enable Congress to get the post of Leader of the Opposition if NCP were to merge with Congress. There is no doubt that NCP is politically shrinking. Though NCP got five seats in the recent polls, it was much below its expectations. While the TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu and Pawar tried to project the latter as opposition face as he was acceptable to smaller opposition parties before the 2019 polls, this did not succeed. Both BJP and its coalition partner Shiv Sena are making solid preparations for the Assembly polls and together they stand to gain in comparison to the dwindling fortunes of NCP and Congress. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the Sena leader Aditya Thackeray are undertaking padayatras for mass contact programmes. The coming two months are crucial for the Congress-NCP combine to set right their houses and stakes are very high. If this coalition loses, it will remain out of power for two consecutive terms. (The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img