The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) cadre wants Sharad Pawar to be its chief ministerial candidate. But will he take such a risk?
After the Lok Sabha polls, Pawar is the NCP's only hope. But if he of his party goes the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) way, it also has the possibility of ending his career.
The Shiv Sena and the MNS have already declared their leaders Uddhav Thackeray and Raj Thackeray as their respective chief ministerial candidates.
At a state-level meeting of the NCP on Friday, leaders from Pune and Ahmednagar demanded that Pawar be declared the chief ministerial candidate.
The average NCP worker is not wrong in thinking "it will be a big boost" if Pawar is made the CM candidate.
But seasoned leaders within the party know better.
NCP spokesperson Ankush Kakade admitted that a demand to make Pawar as the chief ministerial candidate was made at the meeting. One senior leader summed up the mood at the cadre level.
"We are totally demoralised after the Lok Sabha polls. We are afraid we may also lose the assembly election badly. We are working with a defeated mentality. So, in the meeting, we requested Pawarsaheb to take the leadership and change the spirit of the party workers," he said.
Another leader from Ahmednagar echoed the view. "This is a crisis period. We need a strong leader who can help us survive. People have faith in Pawarsaheb. He has to rejuvenate the party," he said.
At another time, another occasion, these words would have made music to Pawar's ears. Not now. Even though there was an anti-Congress wave in the country, the NCP couldn't make much political capital during the Lok Sabha polls.
The biggest worry to the pro-Pawar camp now is that, given the current mood in the country, if he fails to get even a simple majority in October, this assembly poll would turn out to be his Waterloo.
Sources close to Pawar are aware of that and speak of a different strategy.
"Pawar has been meeting party workers in the last two days. We have arranged district-wise meetings of our leaders. We are trying to understand their psychology. Pawarsaheb is gauging the mood of the people and party workers. After that, he will take a final decision whether to declare himself as CM candidate or not," a source said .
Another political observer said, after BJP leader Gopinath Munde's sudden demise, there is a big void in state politics. "The NCP may gain from the gimmick of declaring Pawar a CM candidate. But Pawar himself may not take such a big risk."
Will the NCP cadre understand that?