NCP rattles sabres with RSS over Organiser article ascribing BJP’s poor General elections performance to alliance with Ajit Pawar

The RSS article also renewed speculation on whether the Ajit Pawar-led NCP would break away from the Mahayuti after the Lok Sabha election

Updated - June 14, 2024 02:57 pm IST

Published - June 14, 2024 01:07 pm IST - Pune

NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal has claimed his party is unnecessarily being blamed for the Lok Sabha election defeat.

NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal has claimed his party is unnecessarily being blamed for the Lok Sabha election defeat. | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

After an article in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) mouthpiece Organiser ascribed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) alliance with the Ajit Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) faction as a prime reason for the former’s poor performance in the Lok Sabha election in Maharashtra, senior NCP leader and Maharashtra Minister Chhagan Bhujbal on Friday strongly questioned the RSS’ claims given that his party had been given barely four seats of the 48 Lok Sabha seats to contest on.

The BJP had won nine of the 29 seats it fought on, while their ‘Mahayuti’ ally, Ajit Pawar’s NCP could bag just one of the four seats it was allotted in the recently concluded general election.

Speaking in Pune, Mr. Bhujbal said: “We were given barely four seats of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the State. Candidates from two of these seats - Shirur and Parbhani - were not technically from our party. So, we effectively fought on two seats and won one. We effectively got two seats [in the seat-sharing process], Raigad and Baramati. Then, how can you [RSS] say that the BJP’s alliance with us has affected its performance in the Lok Sabha election?”

NCP leader Sunil Tatkare managed to retain his seat in Raigad while Ajit Pawar’s wife, Sunetra Pawar, crashed in Baramati, losing to Sharad Pawar’s daughter, Supriya Sule by a huge margin of more than 1.5 lakh votes

Shivajirao Adhalrao-Patil, a leader from Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena faction was the NCP (Ajit Pawar) faction’s candidate for the Shirur seat, and contested the election on the NCP’s clock symbol. For the Parbhani seat, Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP) chief Mahadev Jankar - an influential Dhangar leader - was given a ticket from the NCP’s kitty. Both duly lost the election.

Mr. Bhujbal had earlier said that while the BJP’s defeat was being blamed on its alliance with the NCP, why was not anyone talking about the result in Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP’s seats had decreased dramatically.

The Organiser article penned by RSS ideologue Ratan Sharda had squarely blamed the adhesion of Ajit Pawar’s NCP faction into the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) fold as “a huge political blunder” on part of the BJP.

The article had said that “Sharad Pawar would have faded away over the next two-three years as the NCP would have lost its energy owing to the internecine conflict between the cousins (Ajit Pawar and Supriya Sule, Sharad Pawar’s daughter).

 “Why was this ill-advised step taken? This step hurt BJP loyalists as they fought against this [NCP’s] ideology for years and had to face persecution. After years of struggle to become the number one party in Maharashtra, it instead became just another political party without any difference,” Mr. Sharda wrote in his piece.

The article brought into sharp relief the fundamental tension that has existed between the BJP and the NCP ever since Ajit split his uncle, Sharad Pawar’s party to align with the Mahayuti government in July last year.

Several BJP leaders and rank-and-file workers were upset that after years of hurling scam accusations at Ajit Pawar and other senior NCP leaders, they were now forced to do a political pirouette and swallow those allegations while sitting in an uneasy coalition with a party ideologically opposed to the BJP.

This, coupled with the rebel NCP leaders being given plum posts in the Mahayuti, has rankled not just the BJP but also Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena faction.

The RSS article also renewed speculation on whether the Ajit Pawar-led NCP would break away from the Mahayuti after the Lok Sabha election and that the BJP’s ‘utility’ for Ajit Pawar’s NCP was only limited to the general election.  

While NCP (Ajit faction) working president Praful Patel said that the RSS article did not reflect the BJP’s position, NCP youth wing leader Sooraj Chavan – a close aide of Ajit Pawar - lashed out by saying the when the BJP did well in polls, credit was given to the RSS hard work, but the saffron party’s defeat was conveniently blamed on Ajit Pawar.

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