Maratha leaders want Bhujbal to be removed from the cabinet for opposing reservation for the Maratha community.
On one hand the NCP is trying to revive itself and prepare for the assembly election on the other hand huge infighting is prevalent within the party. Marathas who constitute around 35 per cent of the votebank and politically strong community within the NCP have asked party chief Sharad Pawar to drop Chhagan Bhujbal from the cabinet. They are upset with Bhujbal for opposing reservations for the Maratha community. Bhujbal who belongs to OBC (Other Backward Castes) is worried that the community will have to share their quota with Marathas and hence is against providing reservation to them. He had taken this stand in order to woo the OBC community.
This stance had angered the Maratha community prompting Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to announce reservation for the community with an eye on election. Industrial minister Narayan Rane had also prepared a detailed report for providing quota to Marathas. Bhujbal nonetheless had objected to this report which cost him dearly as he lost the election in Nasik. He was defeated by a margin of over 1.87 lakh votes in Nashik by Hemant Godse of the Shiv Sena. As a result of this many party leaders have started distancing themselves from Bhujbal. Many of them are worried that if Bhujbal continues to remain in the cabinet then it will prove costly for the NCP ahead of assembly election. According to them, Bhujbal will only champion the cause of OBC and will oppose the reservation for Marathas once again which will prove counterproductive for the party.
Sharad Pawar has already instructed party members to pull up their socks and start preparing for the assembly election. After the severe jolt received by the NCP in the Lok Sabha election the party wants to salvage some pride by improving its tally in the assembly election.
Even though the party had appointed some leaders as spokespersons to connect with voters but most of them have been responsible for the party’s poor performance in the election.
Workers at the NCP headquarters, however, said the conduct of “ministers and leaders needs to change first”. Several senior leaders spoken across the state too expressed concern about the image beating the party had taken in public.
“Today, the challenge before us is to wipe the negative image of our ministers in public mind. Now, how can we restore the image of R R Patil as a good home minister? Though Patil has a clean image, there is perception that his ministry is ineffective. Take the case of failure to install CCTVs or women security or atrocities against Dalits,” said a senior minister who did not wish to be named.