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NCP FACES EXISTENTIALIST QUESTIONS A DECADE LATER

June 10, 2009, marks the 10th anniversary of the Nationalist Congress Party. But they will be low-key. Morale in the party is at an all-time low, following a rather poor showing in the Lok Sabha elections and the arrest of its senior leader and member of Parliament, Padamsinh Patil, on charges of murder. Not surprising then that Sharad Pawar is skipping the 10th anniversary celebrations, and calling on party members to engage in an introspection exercise on June 17. After all, at stake are the credibility of Sharad Pawar and the future of the NCP. The party was born after Pawar, along with PA Sangma and Tariq Anwar, declared their opposition to Sonia Gandhi as a possible Prime Minister. But the issue became secondary after the NCP and Congress allied to form the government in Maharashtra in 1999. This alliance has since endured. Besides these existentialist questions, bedeviling the party today is the perceived high handedness of the Maratha leadership in the party, which has alienated those from the other castes and created factions within the party. Senior NCP leaders like Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil, Madhukar Pichhad and Chhagan Bhujbal et al find themselves sidelined in policy-making while the second-rank leaders – Ajit Pawar, Jayant Patil, Dilip Walse-Patil, RR Patil, et al – are busy squabbling. The biggest challenge for Pawar is to re-inforce the mantra of social engineering by broadening the party’s appeal to the non-Maratha groups in the state. Morale in the NCP party is at an all-time low, following a rather poor showing in the Lok Sabha elections and the arrest of its senior leader and Member of Parliament, Padamsinh Patil, on charges of murder. However, senior leaders of the party continue to put up a brave face. Zeba Warsia – NMTV News.

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