Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has planned a two days visit to north Maharashtra on November 20 and November 21 as a part of the party's exercise to regain its hold and thereby consolidate its position to checkmate the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This will be Pawar’s maiden visit to Dhule and Nandurbar in north Maharashtra after former BJP leader Eknath Khadse, who hails from the same region, joined NCP.
Khadse, who has already launched an exercise to accommodate his followers and those unhappy with BJP in NCP, is expected to join Pawar during the proposed visit. The NCP supremo, on the occasion of Khadse’s entry into the party fold, had declared that the latter will play a crucial role in rebuilding the organisation of the party in north Maharashtra, comprising Jalgaon, Dhule, Nandurbar and Nashik, and thereby put up a strong challenge to BJP.
Party sources told the Free Press Journal that few key BJP leaders are expected to join NCP during Pawar’s proposed visit. Besides, those who had left NCP ahead of the assembly elections last year are expected to re-join the party. Khadse, who hails from the Leva Patil community, has a clout not just in his home district in Jalgaon, but also in Nashik, Dhule and Nandurbar, where BJP since 2014 made enough inroads.
Interestingly, NCP strongly feels that with Pawar’s decision to give Khadse a free hand, its organisational base will become stronger ahead of the next assembly and Lok Sabha elections. Khadse has agreed to hold a huge rally at Jalgaon in Pawar’s presence to send a signal to BJP that it is NCP’s turn to spread its wings. Pawar has hinted that NCP and its allies Shiv Sena and Congress can together put BJP at bay in north Maharashtra.