Chief minister Prithivraj Chavan is unlikely to take on Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar in the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) election scheduled on October 18.
There was strong speculation about an impending battle between Chavan, who belongs to the Congress, and Pawar, when the CM accepted an invitation from the Mazgaon Cricket Club to be its voting member which would have enabled him to contest for the presidentship of MCA. But, now Chavan appears to be having second thoughts since he has realised that it would be rather difficult to trounce Pawar, who has been a veteran in cricket-politics for the past several decades.
Chavan was upset when Pawar accused him of sitting over files.
He hit back stating that files relating to public welfare were cleared by him immediately. It is in the background of this bitter battle of words that Chavan decided to enter the fray. But wiser counsels appeared to have prevailed.
When contacted by dna, Chavan refused to confirm if he was still in the fray. However,
Shah Alam Shaikh, owner of Mazgaon Cricket Club who made chief minister a representative of his club for the MCA poll, said: “After filing the representation papers, the CM did not contact me even once. If the CM is u nwilling, then I will contest the poll.’’
Last time, Shaikh had lost the election for the MCA managing committee.
Sources close to Chavan told dna that he is not keen on contesting the election now. “He will be spoiling his copybook if he loses the poll to Pawar and that too with general elections approaching.”
On the other hand, Jitendra Ahwad, the state working president of NCP recently told dna that Sharad would contest the MCA poll and was sure about his victory. “Pawar saheb is a master in the political as well as cricket field. In fact, he will get elected unopposed,” said a senior NCP office bearer.
Political rivalry between Pawar and Chavan goes back to 1999 when the NCP chief defeated him in Karad in the Lok Sabha election by a margin of over 1.50 votes. Chavan was elected thrice from Karad Lok Sabha constituency, once a family pocket borough represented by his late father Anandrao Chavan from 1957 till his death in 1973.
Most of the MLAs and senior leaders from Satara had joined Pawar’s new political outfit — NCP, but Chavan remained loyal to the Gandhi family.
War of words
Sharad Pawar had recently criticised Prithviraj Chavan’s working style, saying he might be suffering from paralysis of hands because of which he doesn’t sign files for at least three to four months. Congress leaders, including Chavan, were disappointed with Pawar for making such a below-the-belt remark. Which was why Chavan had decided to take the lead in sport politics and make the going a bit tough for Pawar.