Seeking to revive the party’s fortunes in the Maharashtra Assembly elections which are due this year, NCP chief Sharad Pawar is thinking of fielding a sizable number of new faces, a party source said Friday.
The assembly elections could be a do-or-die affair for the Maharashtra-centric party, especially in the wake of the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena alliance’s good show in the Lok Sabha polls.
Pawar was planning to give tickets to a lot of new faces this time, a party source said.
“The NCP had won 41 seats in the last elections. Even if the two parties (Congress and NCP) share the seats equally, it will be 144 seats apiece. So the NCP has many seats in hand to experiment with new faces,” a source said.
Pawar had banked on several new faces when he founded the NCP and contested the Assembly polls in 1999. The party later joined hands with the Congress to form the government.
Asked for a comment, the NCP’s chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “When the party was formed in 1999, new faces were given opportunity to contest Assembly polls. Pawar has always encouraged new faces.”
The NCP won 41 of the 278 seats it contested in the 2014 Assembly elections. It had fought the polls alone, 15 years after sharing power with the Congress.
The BJP emerged as the single largest party winning 122 seats and later formed the government with the Shiv Sena, which had bagged 63 seats.
The Pawar-led party did not fare well in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, managing to win only four seats in the state.
The party is set to contest the state election in alliance with the Congress and other like-minded parties.