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Reach out to voters, Sharad Pawar tells ministers

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Nationalist Party chief on Monday asked his party ministers in Maharashtra to “shape up or ship out” ahead of elections to the 196 municipalities, 10 corporations and 27 zilla parishad starting next month.

Disturbed by intra-party groupism and a widening disconnect between the ministers and people, the Maratha strongman asked ministers to reach out to the people and increase the 1999-founded party’s presence among OBCs, backward classes, minorities, youth and women —and not restrict to any particular region of the state.

It was Pawar’s maiden interaction with his party’s ministers after the announcement of elections to 196 municipalities slated for December 8.

As for electoral alliances with the Congress and “like-minded” parties, the 70-year-old politician left the decision to respective district guardian ministers. “An alliance is the need of the hour,” he said, and asked the ministers to chalk out pertinent strategies.

Pawar warned that the NCP ministers should not resort to “excess helicopter use” during their visits to various districts. In fact, they would henceforth give proper accounts for the expenses on chopper usage.

An NCP minister later said the message was loud and clear. “There has been tremendous enthusiasm, especially among the youth, when it comes to supporting the NCP. We need to cash in on this,” he told Business Standard.

As far as the NCP’s strategy for Mumbai civil poll is concerned, the minister said Pawar has convened meeting of a group of ministers on November 10. “For now, the general consensus is that the NCP and the Congress should forge an electoral alliance to unseat the Shiv Sena-alliance,” he said. “If the Congress is not inclined to do so, then we should be prepared to contest all the 227 seats on our own.”

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