PUNE: Nationalist Congress Party Sharad Pawar’s strategy to project second rung Maratha leaders and bring non Marathas closer to the Congress- NCP combine in Ichalkaranji-Hatkanagle, Amravati has worried both the ruling BJP- Shiv Sena combine and the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi led by Prakash Ambedkar.

With this strategy Pawar, considered a political strategist, has upset their plan to get over 30 of the total 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra that go to the polls in the third phase on April 23. Pawar has been given a virtual free hand by Congress President Rahul Gandhi to devise and implement a strategy that works for the coalition.

Pawar has fielded Sangram Jagtap in Ahmednagar against Sujay Vikhe Patil , son of Congress heavyweight and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil. He has also fielded a popular young Maratha leader Sanjay Shinde in Madha against the BJP-Shiv Sena candidate. Pawar has also brought in television star Amol Kolhe who became famous for portraying Chhatrapati Sambhaji, in Shirur against the Shiv Sena. The Congress-NCP, under Pawar’s guidance, will be supporting actress Navneet Kaur Rana, wife of Independent MLA from Amravati.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray have been targeting Pawar as his election strategy seems to be making the polls come alive for the opposition in Western Maharashtra,Marathwada and partially in Vidarbha and north Maharashtra. In fact political workers here are commenting on the fact that Pawar, more than Congress president Rahul Gandhi, seems to be in the Shiv Sena-BJP line of fire.

Uddhav Thackeray is also disturbed because of the revival of Raj Thackeray because of Pawar. Raj Thackeray is on a roll attacking the BJP and the Shiv Sena. Pawar has always maintained good relations with the Thackerays and after Udhav Thackeray’s decision to go back to the BJP fold, he is being credited for activating Raj Thackeray to attack the ruling regime.

Pawar has been playing a major role in not just strategising the campaign in Maharashtra, but also keeping the opposition flock together at some levels on the larger national scale. He worked hard, but did not succeed, in trying to bring the Aam Aadmi party and the Congress together in Delhi. He in touch with all regional political parties and in position to play a keen role, if required, to build an opposition alternative even after the elections.