Mumbai, Jan 6 :
After Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar decided to opt out of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the GenNext in the party is keen to play a national role by contesting parliamentary seats in Maharashtra, a top official said here Monday.
Led by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar – Sharad Pawar’s nephew, several other ministers and senior party leaders are vying for a Lok Sabha candidature in the state for at least 22 of the 48 seats which are likely to come in the NCP kitty.
“A final decision on the candidates will be taken between Jan 10 and 15,” state NCP president Bhaskar Jadhav told mediapersons after the party’s two-day marathon meeting for poll preparations ended here Monday.
Sharad Pawar, also the union agriculture minister, held a series of meetings and discussions with aspiring candidates from each Lok Sabha constituency that NCP hopes to contest in the parliamentary polls.
Though Ajit Pawar is open to a candidature from Beed – currently held by arch rival and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) strongman Gopinath Munde, he will contest from anywhere the party fields him, Jadhav said.
When asked whether this would imply sidelining Ajit Pawar in Maharashtra politics to strengthen Supriya Pawar-Sule (Sharad Pawar’s daughter), Jadhav dismissed the contention and said she would contest from Baramati, the party’s traditional stronghold.
“There is no question of sidelining anybody. Our target is to achieve a double-digit figure of the 22 seats we contest and we are aiming for at least 16. All decisions shall be taken in the interest of the party,” Jadhav declared.
The NCP has already declared it would swap a few constituencies with its ally, the Congress.
Jadhav added the NCP will suggest to the Congress that both should contest one seat in each district with the possibility of swapping in three-four constituencies.
“For instance, Raigad belongs to the Congress but they have lost there in the past three elections. If they agree to swapping, I am willing to contest it,” said Jadhav, who represents Chiplun assembly segment of the Raigad Lok Sabha seat in the coastal Konkan region.
Incidentally, the Congress and the NCP proved to be a winning combination in 2009, winning 17 and eight, respectively, or 25, of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
The Opposition Shiv Sena bagged 11, its ally BJP secured nine, while the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, Swabhimani Paksha and an Independent candidate won one seat each.