NCP founder Sharad Pawar defied rains to deliver a speech on Sunday, bringing back memories of his pivotal address in October 2019 which is said to have changed the fortunes of his party in the last Maharashtra assembly elections. In the evening, Mr Pawar attended a party event in Navi Mumbai, which had been receiving rains since the morning. As he started to speak, light showers followed.
However, the veteran politician, who will turn 83 next month, wasn’t deterred.
“Our plans here have been disrupted by the rains today. But we are the people who won’t surrender so easily or backtrack. We need to continue our struggle in future as well,” he said amid the rains, apparently referring to his nephew Ajit Pawar’s aggressive plans to take control of the party.
Photos and videos of the rain-soaked NCP chief at the event soon went viral on social media, with his supporters remembering his address four years ago.
On October 18, 2019, three days before the Maharashtra assembly polls, Mr Pawar was in Satara to campaign for an NCP candidate for Lok Sabha bypolls.
Just when he was about to address the rally, it started raining heavily. Although he was offered an umbrella, Mr Pawar refused it and said the rain god has blessed the NCP. The Satara Lok Sabha bypoll was held along with the assembly elections.
The photographs and videos of Mr Pawar addressing the rally completely drenched in rain went viral on social media and became an internet sensation.
That speech is largely believed to have turned the political fortunes of the party, which was marred by large-scale defections to the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha and assembly polls.
The NCP finished third with 54 seats,13 more than its 2014 tally of 41 seats, in the assembly polls. The Congress, which was relegated to the fourth position, also said that Mr Pawar’s Satara speech had helped the party.
Mr Pawar is now battling a different battle this time after his nephew Ajit Pawar and many senior leaders broke away from NCP in July and sided with the BJP and Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena to become a part of the government.
The NCP faction under Ajit Pawar has moved the Election Commission to claim the party’s name and poll symbol. Ajit Pawar claims the support of over 40 MLAs.