Farmers from here too have never let down Sharad Pawar. In 1980, when he began rebuilding his Congress (Socialist) that had been deserted by all but six legislators, he got maximum victories from the Nashik district.
Now, Nashik is considered a safe constituency for the NCP and after Chhagan Bhujbal lost two elections from elsewhere, Pawar had found for him the safe seat of Yeola within the district. Bhujbal was a legislator from Mazgaon in Mumbai when he quit the Shiv Sena in 1991, but could never win from the city again after he betrayed Bal Thackeray.
Pawar then found him the safe seat of Yeola, but with Bhujbal now having stabbed his second mentor in the back, Pawar seems as determined now as Thackeray was at that time to see that Bhujbal does not win another election from this constituency.
Pawar’s first meeting after the split in his party was with Dalits, tribals and other backward classes (to which Bhujbal belongs) in Satara which was a resounding success. His second in Nashik saw a similar upsurge of farmers before whom Pawar folded his hands and begged forgiveness for choosing the wrong candidate (Bhujbal) to represent them in the Legislature,
“I will not make this mistake again,” Pawar avowed. Bhujbal now has his task cut out for him winning from here again.
But Pawar also took on former acolyte Praful Patel in no uncertain terms. Patel has been declaring often in the past week that the NCP has no legal standing as a political party. “Then how come you are making appointments in the name of my illegal party?” Pawar asked Patel, adding that it is not the legislators or the courts but the people who will decide which is the true NCP.