Maharashtra Lok Sabha Election 2024: Sharad Pawar & Uddhav Thackeray's Political Survival At Stake

Maharashtra Lok Sabha Election 2024: Sharad Pawar & Uddhav Thackeray's Political Survival At Stake

While Pawar, 83, has never lost an election in a political career spanning more than five decades, Thackeray has never contested a direct election.

FPJ News ServiceUpdated: Monday, April 08, 2024, 11:34 AM IST
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As the campaign for the Lok Sabha election gathers momentum, Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray are fighting for their political survival. The two leaders are out of power and have lost control of their parties – the Shiv Sena and the NCP, respectively – along with the original name and electoral symbol. The Election Commission and the Maharashtra assembly speaker have recognised the Ajit Pawar-led NCP and Shinde-led Sena as the real NCP and the real Shiv Sena.

Journalist and political analyst Prakash Akolkar said that both leaders need to put up an impressive performance in the polls, or else they risk political extinction. "Uddhav Thackeray needs to get at least six to seven MP selected to keep his flock together till the assembly polls, which are due later this year," Akolkar said.

Thackeray had to contest as many Lok Sabha seats as his party contested when he was a BJP ally in 2019, and he is doing just that, declaring 21 candidates so far not withstanding the Congress staking claim to some of these seats, the journalist noted. The NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar) is contesting 10 seats as per the seat-sharing formula worked out with his MVA allies, the Sena (UBT) and the Congress.

But Akolkar said the key seat for Pawar senior is his home turf Baramati, where his daughter and three-time MP Supriya Sule is facing a challenge from Ajit Pawar's wife, Sunetra Pawar. "If Sharad Pawar loses Baramati, everything is lost for him. This is a battle between him and his nephew Ajit who has managed and controlled Baramati constituency for the family all these years," Akolkar said.

While Pawar, 83, has never lost an election in a political career spanning more than five decades, Thackeray has never contested a direct election. When he became chief minister, Thackeray was elected to the legislative council. The Shinde faction of ten taunts him for not stepping out of the house when he held the top post in the state. But in the run-up to the elections, Thackeray has been travelling to different parts of the state, and his rallies are getting good response.

Pawar, too, is on the move while also reaching out to his old rivals in Pune district (where Baramati constituency is located) like the Thopates of Congress to ensure his daughter has a smooth sailing. With the MVA's seat-shar-ing talks with Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar's Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) falling through, the direct contest between the MVA and Mahayuti alliance has become a triangular fight, and in Akolkar's opinion it would benefit the ruling alliance.

Abhay Deshpande, another journalist, pointed out that the elections will also test the claim of Sharad Pawar and Thackeray that the traditional voters and cadres of their respective parties are loyal to them. There is also unrest in BJP cadres, and it will have to be seen if they work wholeheartedly for candidates of Ajit Pawar-led NCP and Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena, Deshpande added.

"Splits in political parties is not a new phenomenon. But for the first time, rebels have hijacked the original parties after the split and got recognition," he noted. "The slogan of 400-plus seats is meant to motivate BJP workers. But to realise that goal, the BJP will have to retain the 2019 tally of 41 seats (which it won in alliance with undivided Sena) in Maharashtra. Due to the alignmentand realignment of political equations, this is going to be a challenge," Deshpande said.

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