The former chief minister of Maharashtra and NCP leader Sharad Pawar visited Belagavi district in Karnataka earlier this week. His visit has been minutely watched by his political nemesis. Experts believe Pawar’s venture is a part of his plan to prepare the ground for next year’s assembly elections in the state.
Shard Pawar and his party, the NCP, are stepping up to create a strong political hold in Karnataka for the upcoming assembly polls next year. Every move the veteran politician makes is crucial for his party.
The visit of Pawar has triggered a political turmoil in Karnataka politics because Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar—who is an NCP leader and Sharad Pawar’s nephew—spoke will go ahead in support of the merger of Marathi-speaking villages in Bidar, Bhalki, Belagavi, Karwar, Nippani and other places in Karnataka with Maharashtra.
Ajit Pawar’s comments irked the Karnataka chief minister, Basavaraj Bommai, who asked the Maharashtra politicians to “stop using the language border issue for their political survival”. Bommai has made it clear that Karnataka would not give even “an inch of its land” to Maharashtra.
No seat for NCP in 2018
However, the NCP is looking forward to fielding its candidate in next year’s assembly polls in the state, not only in Belagavi but Bengaluru as well. The NCP’s record in the last assembly elections in Karnataka was dismal. It contested in 14 constituencies in the 2018 polls but failed to win any seat.
The past record makes it clear that the NCP needs the support of Marathi voters as well as Lingayat voters to win a few seats in the Karnataka assembly polls.
Sharad Pawar’s visit to unveil a statue of Lingayat icon Veera Rani Chennamma, who fought the British in Kittur, is part of the party’s bid to woo the Lingayat voters. The community accounts for 17 percent of Karnataka’s population.
The important point emerged that Sharad Pawar shared the dais with BJP leader and former Rajya Sabha MP Prabhakar Kore during the valedictory function of the golden jubilee celebrations of Dakshin Maharashtra Shikshan (DMS) Mandal in Belagavi. It might be possible that Kore may quit the saffron party and shake hands with Sharad Pawar. Kore is a Lingayat leader and a well-known face in his community.
According to BJP sources, Prabhakar Kore is feeling sidelined in the BJP and is now hoping to secure the political future of his son, Amit Kore, by seeking a ticket for him from either of the two national parties to contest from Chikkodi. Amit is currently in the Congress party, and there are chances of Prabhakar Kore joining the Congress, along with a few BJP leaders from the region.
Sharad Pawar is a shrewd politician and this move may turn out to be fruitful for the NCP in the 2023 assembly polls in Karnataka.