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Maharashtra 'Pawar' Play: How Ajit Pawar Is Planning To Revive NCP and Win Prestige Battle Against Sharad Pawar?

Ajit Pawar knows that the NCP has failed in its debut test and if he doesn't act, then it may go further downhill in the upcoming state assembly elections. 

Maharashtra 'Pawar' Play: How Ajit Pawar Is Planning To Revive NCP and Win Prestige Battle Against Sharad Pawar?

On June 4, when the results of the Lok Sabha Elections were announced, Ajit Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party was expecting that the people of Maharashtra would understand his choice of rebellion and support him in the polls. However, in a shocking turn of events, the NCP could win just one Lok Sabha seat of the four it contested. On the other hand, the NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar) bagged eight out of 10 seats it contested. The election was a test for Ajit Pawar as he was leading the NCP in the first Lok Sabha polls after its split last year. Ajit Pawar even fielded his wife Sunetra against cousin sister Supriya Sule but lost the Baramati seat. 

Ajit Pawar knows that the NCP has failed in its debut test and if he doesn't act, then it may go further downhill in the upcoming state assembly elections. With only three months left for the Maharashtra assembly elections, Ajit Pawar has decided to turn the fortunes in his party's favour. The NCP is facing stiff competition from NCP-Sharad Pawar. Ajit Pawar is facing twin challenges - first to woo the voters and second to overcome the Sharad Pawar conundrum. 

On Sunday, Ajit Pawar warmly welcomed the Sant Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi, part of the Pandharpur pilgrimage, to his hometown of Baramati. True to his promise made in the Assembly to walk with the pilgrims, or 'warkaris,' when they passed through Baramati, the Deputy Chief Minister joined them in traditional attire, accompanied by his wife, Sunetra. Furthermore, the Budget he presented as Finance Minister last week included a special allocation for the warkaris – Rs 20,000 for every 'dindi' (group) participating in the Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj and Sant Tukaram Maharaj palkhis to Pandharpur.

Ajit Pawar knows that he will have to be on the ground if he wants to make the NCP race ahead of the rival faction. Speaking to reporters recently, Ajit Pawar said that he will start campaigning for the Assembly elections soon. After the Lok Sabha setback, the Mahayuti comprising of the BJP, Shiv Sena-Shinde and the NCP-Ajit Pawar is banking on the monetary payout announced for women in the state Budget, on the lines of Madhya Pradesh's Ladli Behan yojana. 

Ahead of the polls, Ajit Pawar will hold a mega rally  or show of strength in Baramati on July 14 via the 'Jan Samman Rally'. NCP President Sunil Tatkare said that the party leadership will interact with party workers to strategise future plans.

In the upcoming Vidhan Sabha elections, Ajit Pawar is determined not to take any risks, as the NCP (SP) plans to field Sharad Pawar's grand-nephew, Yugendra Pawar. Ajit, a seven-time MLA from Baramati, is aware of the competition within the family, with another of Sharad's grand-nephews, Rohit Pawar, currently serving as an MLA from Karjat-Jamkhed in Ahmednagar district.

By catalysing the grassroots workers and making his presence felt in Baramati, Ajit Pawar is trying to send out a message that he is down but not out. The NCP is confident that the Lok Sabha election results would have no bearing on the state assembly polls. With both - Ajit Pawar out on the battlefield to strengthen his factions, all eyes on Sharad Pawar's next move.