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NCP leader Jayant Patil. Photo: HT
NCP leader Jayant Patil. Photo: HT

Jayant Patil elected chief of NCP unit in Maharashtra

The outgoing state unit president Sunil Tatkare has been made the national general secretary of NCP

Mumbai: Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and former Maharashtra finance minister Jayant Patil was on Sunday unanimously elected the state unit president of NCP at a meeting in Pune.

Patil, 56, is NCP legislator from the Islampur constituency in Sangli district of Western Maharashtra, a region till recently dominated by the NCP but now contested by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). NCP president Sharad Pawar made the announcement at the party’s state executive meeting.

The outgoing state unit president Sunil Tatkare has been made the national general secretary of the party. An NCP functionary, who did not wish to be named, said that Patil, a Maratha, was preferred over Dhananjay Munde, who is from the Other Backward Classes (OBC), since Munde was already the leader of the opposition in Maharashtra legislative council.

“We want to fight the BJP inside the legislature and outside it also. Munde has been doing a very good job inside and we need someone seasoned enough to lead us in the field," the NCP functionary said.

Patil, a soft-spoken politician who comes from a formidable political family that has established its presence in sectors such as co-operation, education, and de-addiction, held portfolios such as finance and rural development during the Congress-NCP rule in Maharashtra from 1999 to 2014. As the state’s finance minister, he set a record of sorts by presenting as many as nine successive budgets.

A civil engineer from Mumbai’s Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), Patil is one of the directors of the Rajarambapu Patil Co-operative Sugar Factory in Walwa of Sangli district. He is also associated with the Rajarambapu Milk Co-operative that his father Rajarambapu founded.

Patil will head the state unit of the NCP into the next assembly and general elections. In fact, former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said after Patil’s appointment that the party expected Patil to lead it to victory in the next elections. “Patil is a very good batsman and spin bowler. The NCP expects him to bat extremely well in this election year and lead it to victory," Ajit Pawar said.

Ever since it was ousted from power both at the Centre and in the state in 2014, the NCP has been trying to regroup and revive. In the 2014 general elections, the NCP won only 6 seats, four from Maharashtra, and in the assembly elections that followed six months later, it won only 41 seats in the state.

In the series of local body elections in Maharashtra in the last thee years, the NCP has suffered a string of losses at the hands of the BJP, losing power in its strongholds like Pune and several parts of Western Maharashtra.

Last year in April, the NCP joined other opposition parties in Maharashtra to carry out a state-wide Sangharsha Yatra to demand a total farm loan waiver. Later, the party also launched its Halla Bol campaign across the state. At times, Sharad Pawar himself led this campaign which has sought to “expose" the corruption scandals involving the BJP and Shiv Sena ministers in the state.

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