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Verdict to boost Ajit’s efforts to woo oppn leaders before Maha elections

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PUNE/KOLHAPUR: Maharashtra deputy CM

Ajit Pawar

will now expand his party by denting opposition, especially

Congress

, in NCP’s heartland of

western Maharashtra

before assembly elections later this year, experts said after Speaker’s verdict on Thursday.
The fact that the original party name and symbol now stay with Ajit is likely to help him draw more leaders.

The sugar belt of western Maharashtra comprising Pune, Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur and parts of Solapur districts has remained an NCP stronghold since its inception. Experts said since the split Ajit has been focusing on this region to strengthen his party, like his uncle Sharad Pawar earlier did.
The fact that a younger generation of Congressmen has already spent the last ten years in opposition and now have the option of joining a ‘secular’ party in power may act as incentives to bring some of them on board.
The Maharashtra deputy chief minister had recently inducted supporters of Sharad Pawar loyalist Jayant Patil from Sangli district. He also wants to bring in disgruntled leaders from Congress like Jayashri Patil, widow of former Congress leader Madan Patil, who represents the family of former chief minister Vasantdada Patil. She had sought a ticket from Sangli in 2019 elections but was denied.

In Satara district, where Sharad Pawar’s faction holds a strong position, Ajit Pawar is keen on fielding his candidates for Lok Sabha election.
Political analyst Prakash Pawar told TOI, “Ajit’s politics relies more on practicality than ideology. While expanding his party, he will look to attract leaders who are financially strong and capable of taking practical decisions rather than sticking to ideology. He may get some success in western Maharashtra where many Maratha leaders are well off but are not getting opportunities to contest.”
Some of these leaders are bound to take into account the fact that though NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar) and Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena have approached SC against EC and Speaker’s orders, the verdict will take time.

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