Even as the 2019 Lok Sabha polls are around the corner, the NCP seems to be in the middle of a family feud. The Pawar family is going through a rough phase over a feud within the second generation of the Pawars. As per reports, the bone of contention is the candidature of Parth, son of Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar. Sharad Pawar ruled out his candidature but it seems that this has not settled the issue. Ajit Pawar seems to be defiant towards Sharad Pawar’s decision. Sharad Pawar has stated that if all members of the Pawar family contested the elections, there would be no scope for NCP activists to fight polls while rejecting Parth’s candidature.
At a public meeting, Ajit Pawar stated that no final decision has been taken as far as Parth’s candidature is concerned. This shows that he is hopeful of securing his son’s candidature and he has not taken what Sharad Pawar said in a very good manner. Meanwhile, Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule has stated that only she will contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from the Pawar family. This clearly shows that she is at loggerheads with Sharad Pawar over Parth’s candidature. She unambiguously stated, “I am the only member of the Pawar family who will be contesting the ensuing Lok Sabha polls from Baramati. Neither Sharad Pawar nor Parth will contest the elections. Reports on the possibility of their contesting the polls are rumours.” The contradictory statements given by Ajit Pawar and Supriya Sule clearly show that all is not well as far as the Pawar family is concerned.
In the recent past, Parth has developed a keen interest in politics. He has also been holding independent meetings of NCP workers in and around Baramati. His supporters are now pressurizing the party leadership to nominate him from Maval constituency. The NCP has lost twice before from the Maval Lok Sabha constituency. Parth’s supporters feel that if someone from the family contests from this constituency, the party will have a good chance of bouncing back. Sharad Pawar and his daughter seem to have taken a stand which is diametrically opposed to the one taken by Ajit Pawar and his son, as far as Parth’s candidature is concerned. At a crucial juncture just before the Lok Sabha polls, the NCP seems to be losing balance even as the Pawars are going through a rough patch.
However, an internal family feud within the Pawars is not the only cause of worry for the NCP. Another feud within the party of 3 dynasts has also put the NCP in a very tight spot. This clash within the NCP involves- Udayanraje Bhosale, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s 13th descendent, on one hand and his cousin Shivendraraje Bhosale, member of legislative Assembly (MLA), and Ramraje Nimbalkar, 29th descendant of the Phaltan royal family and Maharashtra legislative council chairman, on the other. Both these camps have reached out to the NCP supremo. Nimbalkar and Shivendraraje, along with some other party members, met Sharad Pawar and argued that Udayanraje should not be allowed to contest the upcoming polls and alleged that he had made “anti-party” remarks. Within hours, Udayanraje also met the NCP president and sought an assurance about a party ticket for the 2019 general polls. The two camps seem to be in an intense tussle over Udayanraje’s candidature. And while the NCP claims that it will give a tough fight to the BJP in 2019 polls, it seems that the party leadership is not able to resolve these two conflicts- one involving the Pawar family itself and the other involving the three dynasts in its own cadres. The internal conflict will weaken the party from within and that is likely to help the BJP in more ways than one, the disgruntled party leaders and workers might go against their party and decide to support BJP directly or taciltly in Maharashtra.
The NCP seems to be facing a crisis on several fronts. Apart from the internal feuds, the way Sharad Pawar praised Prime Minister Modi and also defended him as far as the Rafale deal is concerned also seems to have landed the NCP in a spot of bother. This has almost sparked a rebellion within the Sharad Pawar led party. Senior leader, Tariq Anwar resigned from the party over Sharad Pawar’s defence for Prime Minister Modi. Similarly, NCP general secretary Munaf Hakim has also quit primary membership of the party over Sharad Pawar’s remarks.
The NCP is on the brink of a full-blown crisis and the threat of possible divisions within the party looms large. This will mean a clear advantage for the BJP. The NCP supremo has already shown reluctance towards the Mahagathbandhan but now even if the NCP were to join the grand coalition, it will, most probably, be a depleted NCP facing internal rebellion on several fronts. The BJP might have a cakewalk on offer as far as the state of Maharashtra is concerned during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Moreover, the BJP and Shiv Sena also seem to be sharing a peaceful relationship as of now. The BJP clearly has an edge over the opposition (whether divided or in coalition) as far as the state of Maharashtra is concerned.