Why Sharad Pawar’s NCP wants Congress veteran Prithviraj Chavan to contest from Satara

Chavan did not turn down the request, neither did he accept it.

96-Prithviraj-Chavan Prithviraj Chavan

A couple of days ago, Jayant Patil, state president of Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party, went to Karad in south Maharashtra to meet senior Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. The agenda behind the meeting was to request Chavan to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Satara constituency.

Chavan did not turn down the request, neither did he accept it immediately. Instead, he said that he will do as his party leadership directs him. However, he made one thing clear that he will contest the elections only on Congress party symbol, 'the hand'. 

Now the ball is in NCP (Sharad Pawar)' s court. The Satara seat is currently held by NCP (Sharad Pawar) MP Shrinivas Patil. He has, however, declined to contest 2024 elections citing old age-related health issues. With Shrinivas Patil opting out, the NCP led by Pawar senior has been desperately searching for a strong candidate in Satara. That is how they zeroed in on Prithviraj Chavan. Chavan has held the seat in the past when the Congress was united and Sharad Pawar led it in Maharashtra.

The two other candidates that the NCP is thinking about are Shashikant Shinde and Balasaheb Patil, both legislators and former ministers in the MVA government during 2019-2022. Both of them, however, are limited to their assembly constituencies and lack district wide appeal and stature of Shrinivas Patil or Prithviraj Chavan. That is why the NCP led by Pawar senior is so keen on Prithviraj Chavan contesting the elections. But for Chavan to contest, the NCP will have to give up the seat in favour of the Congress. 

Apart from Shashikant Shinde and Balasaheb Patil, the NCP also briefly toyed with the idea of fielding Sarang Patil, son of outgoing MP Shrinivas Patil, but it didn't fetch enthusiastic response.

Chavan told journalists that he will contest only on Congress ticket as he is a loyal Congress worker. " Otherwise, any candidate that Pawar Saheb announces, we will work for his victory whole-heartedly," said Chavan. 

Even Ajit Pawar-led NCP has been unable to find a candidate for the Satara seat. It wants Rajya Sabha MP Udayan Raje Bhosle to contest on NCP ticket, but Udayan doesn't want to be part of Ajit Pawar’s party. He doesn't get along with Ajit. However, he has conveyed that he doesn't mind contesting provided the seat is given to the BJP. 

Udayan, the 13th descendant of maratha warrior King Shivaji, has been close to the BJP in Maharashtra politics for a long time. At present, he is a BJP MP in Rajya sabha.

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