DESPITE their misgivings about Sharad Pawar, leaders of the Congress in Maharashtra are coming around to the idea that the Maratha veteran remains their best bet to take on the BJP in the state.
Earlier this month, leaders of Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress sat across the table and decided to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections together. Both the parties snapped their uneasy 15-year-old alliance ahead of the last Assembly elections and came to grief. To their dismay, both parties discovered that divided they fall while the Shiv Sena and the BJP, which also contested the elections separately, gained vote share and seats from the secular parties.
The rapprochement was mooted by Pawar singing praises of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi who he said had the inclination to learn and understand the issues facing the nation. The statements were seen as a precursor to the NCP chief agreeing to accept Gandhi’s leadership.
But knowing Pawar, Congress leaders will watch their back. It was not long ago that the man from Baramati hosted PM Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders on his home turf and was hailed as the original vikas purush of Maharashtra. But the Congress lacking the stature of leaders like Vilasrao Deshmukh who could look Pawar in the eye will have to bear it.
Reality check for Fadnavis
Barely three years after he humiliated Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray by making him “beg” for an invitation to his swearing-in ceremony as Maharashtra CM, Devendra Fadnavis seems to have lost some of his swagger.
Successive crop failures and a poorly handled farm loan waiver scheme have seen the BJP’s stock plunge in rural Maharashtra. Reports of farmers stoning the vehicles of ministers visiting the hinterland has raised the spectre of the saffron party suffering a worse fate here than it did in the recent Gujarat Assembly elections.
The Shiv Sena, which is part of the ruling alliance with the BJP, uses its mouthpiece Saamna to diminish PM Narendra Modi’s fading halo in Maharashtra. Worse still, Sena has announced that it will contest elections on its own without aligning with any party. BJP leaders, however, believe that Sena will have secret tie-ups with the Congress-NCP in 100 of the 288 seats to take political revenge.
Fadnavis admitted at an event here that the BJP was prepared to go it alone if it had to, though it would prefer an alliance with Shiv Sena.
The Ambanis are not known to spare anyone who crosses their path. Not the bear cartel that tried to take down Reliance in the 1970s nor industrialist Nusli Wadia who allegedly used newspaper baron Ramnath Goenka to skirmish with the group a decade later.
Since then everyone gave the Ambanis a wide berth. Till Nirav Modi came along, that is. Not only did the diminutive diamaintaire managed to get his brother Nishal land of Mukesh Ambani’s niece Ishita, he also left the late patriarch’s nephew Vipul holding the can before escaping with Rs 11,400 crore loot.
News Courtesy : TOI,Tribune