‘Sharadchandra’ For Banyan Tree

‘Sharadchandra’ For Banyan Tree

The EC on Wednesday gave indications that Sharad Pawar's party may be given the name "Nationalist Congress Party Sharadchandra Pawar". This has been forwarded by his team as a "preferred name"

Rohit ChandavarkarUpdated: Thursday, February 08, 2024, 11:57 AM IST
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Sharad Pawar | File

NCP insiders and those close to Sharad Pawar say the NCP patriarch plans to fight the battle over his political inheritance at three levels. Firstly, on the legal front, by taking the matter to the Supreme Court and challenging the EC's decision; Secondly, in various cooperative sector entities, mainly in Western Maharashtra, his own turf; and, thirdly, by holding a series of rallies and public meetings in the run up to the 2024 general elections. The EC on Wednesday gave indications that Sharad Pawar's party may be given the name "Nationalist Congress Party Sharadchandra Pawar". This has been forwarded by his team as a "preferred name."

Three possible choices of election symbol

The team also gave three possible choices of election symbols -- "Banyan Tree", "Rising Sun" and a "Pair of Spectacles". The EC will choose one of the three symbols, keeping in mind that Pawar wants the Banyan Tree. Pawar had openly said in a public rally some months ago that his followers and activists should be prepared for a new election symbol to fight the 2024 elections.

The Maratha strongman expected the EC to hand over his party's symbol to the breakaway faction because he saw a similar thing happening in the recent past in the Shiv Sena camp. But Pawar, observers said, seemed very much prepared to handle the situation now, and as he has done on several occasions earlier. Those close to Pawar say his party will approach the Supreme Court in appeal on Thursday or Friday.

Sharad Pawar's political influence

It is learned that a senior counsel from Nagpur, who is a former advocate general of Maharashtra, is in the process of preparing Pawar's legal strategy, a matter in which he is being helped by some very well known senior practicing lawyers from the Supreme Court. The legal battle is one part of how Pawar plans to take his fight against the Ajit Pawar group forward. But at another level he has started calling all heads of various organisations in the cooperative sector such as sugar cooperatives, educational institutions, cooperative banks, credit societies and dairies based in various parts of the state, especially in western Maharashtra.

Sharad Pawar's backbone

These organisations have been the backbone of Pawar's political influence. Pawar anticipates that there may be a race now between his supporters and rival Ajit’s followers to politically "capture" these organisations. This race may be taking place away from the glare of mass media but this slugfest is going to be crucial for Pawar in the upcoming polls. There are reports how Pawar is taking extra efforts to reach out to all office bearers in cooperative organisations. Lastly, insiders from Pawar's group say he is planning to go out on streets and hold rallies and public meetings from the last week of February.

Traditionally this has been an effective way for leaders in Maharashtra but some say Pawar's health may put some restrictions on his movements. In the past five decades, the voters have seen Sharad Pawar going through many ups and downs. On almost all occasions, he has bounced back; in fact, he has never lost any election in his life.

But this time the political opposition comes from Pawar's own nephew whom he has mentored and who knows all his political strategies. Since the opponent is from his own family, age is not on Pawar’s side, and occasional health issues are irritants, observers wonder whether the strongman will be able to rise like a phoenix once again, something he has done several times in the past!

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