MUMBAI: The rejection of Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party by his fort Pune is likely to lead to his fall in another party stronghold -- Western Maharashtra.
The NCP could win only three out of 21 seats in Pune, Pawar’s home district. In 2009, the party had won seven seats and two more seats contested by party-backed Independents.
In Western Maharashtra (57 constituencies) under which Pune falls, the Nationalist Congress Party has been reduced to 17 from the earlier tally of 24.
The three Pune seats NCP won are Baramati, Ambegaon and Indapur. A traditional Pawar bastion, Baramati was won by Pawar’s nephew Ajit securing a margin of 87,000 votes -- the biggest victory margin in the state. Former Assembly Speaker Dilip Walse-Patil retained his Ambegaon seat.
Newbie Dattatray Bharane snatched the Indapur seat from Congress heavyweight Harshawardhan Patil, former Minister for Cooperative and Marketing.
The Nationalist Congress Party faced major humiliation in Pune city, where it finished third and the BJP won all the eight seats -- for the first time. “We have performed well not only in Pune but all major urban centres including Mumbai, Nagpur, Nashik and Aurangabad. It shows urban voters have accepted BJP,” state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis said.
Political analysts attribute the NCP fall in Pune to corruption charges. Pawar himself has been accused of showing lenient approach and nepotism towards a Pune-based developer by allotting him a large portion of land for construction activities.
The defeat is significant in the backdrop of a fact that the party is ruling the local municipal corporation.
In Pimpri-Chinchawad, close to Pune, the Nationalist Congress Party lost all the three seats. It is a huge setback to Ajit, who has a major say in deciding the city’s policies.
Political analyst Hemant Desai says the Pune defeat is an alarming bell for Pawar. “He needs to reshuffle the party organisation. The election result is also a warning bell for Ajit Pawar. The party will have to face more humiliation if he does not change his working style,” Desai said.
Pune Nationalist Congress Party president Vandana Chavan said that there was a need to take drastic steps to boost the morale of the party’s rank and file. “We need to seriously introspect after our debacle,” she said.