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HomePoliticsMaratha MLA Patil takes over NCP reins in Maharashtra ahead of election...

Maratha MLA Patil takes over NCP reins in Maharashtra ahead of election year

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The party is facing a credibility crisis in the wake of corruption allegations against senior leaders Chhagan Bhujbal, Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare.

Mumbai: The NCP elected Jayant Patil, a close aide of party president Sharad Pawar and a former state minister, as its new state president Sunday. The MLA takes over the NCP’s reins in Maharashtra, the party’s strongest bastion, ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha and Maharashtra assembly polls.

The party is facing a credibility crisis among the state’s voters in the wake of corruption allegations against senior leaders Chhagan Bhujbal, Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare. Bhujbal is in jail in connection with a case of alleged money laundering.

In 2014, the party registered its worst ever performance in the state, winning 41 of 278 constituencies it contested in a legislature of 288 members.

Patil, who comes from the NCP’s stronghold of western Maharashtra, was elected unanimously at the party’s core committee meeting in Pune, party members said. The legislator from Islampur, Sangli, is also a close ally of Pawar’s daughter, MP Supriya Sule.

Addressing party workers, NCP National President Sharad Pawar said, “This period is not easy. It is a challenging one. If we are able to take up this challenge, all people within and outside Maharashtra will stand firmly with us. From this point of view, the party leadership’s reorganisation is important.”

He added, Patil has proved himself well as a minister in the government as well as in various positions of responsibility within the party, and everyone should stand with him. “The current situation is such that the burden of atrocities on common people by this government is rising. We are in politics and contest elections, but more importantly we are here for social welfare,” said Pawar who founded the party in May 1999.

He added, the leadership team should give new faces more opportunities and particularly give adequate representation to women, Dalits, tribals, backward classes and the minorities in the party’s affairs to show that “their faces and the party’s face is one and the same.”

The other frontrunner for the post was MLA Shashikant Shinde, who had the backing of Ajit Pawar, the party president’s nephew.

Incumbent state president Tatkare, who held the post for four years, didn’t contest the election this time.

Addressing party workers after the election, Ajit Pawar said, “The outgoing president Tatkare did a lot to instil energy among party workers by vociferously taking up issues such as farmer distress and launching protest campaigns.”

“As our new state president, Jayant Patil, takes charge, I want to wholeheartedly congratulate him. It is heartening to see the entire party stand behind him and show trust in him.”

Political commentator Prakash Bal described Patil as a “very well-networked leader with ample resources to lead the party at the state level”.

“He is shrewd, suave, has a clean image, former ministerial experience. Also, he has the ear of the NCP leadership and is also on good terms with the Congress. This will help considering Sharad Pawar seems to be keen on forging an alliance with the Congress.”

Incidentally, Patil belongs to the Maratha community, which has been disenchanted with the BJP government and has staged a series of silent protests in 2016 and 2017, primarily for reservations in government jobs and education.

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