New Delhi, Oct 24: For long, Sharad Pawar nursed a dream to be Prime Minister of India.
Often flattered as the Maratha strongman, Mr Pawar faced a major challenge this time as in the run-up to the 2019 polls, several of his lieutenants switched loyalties to the Bharatiya Janata Party or Shiv Sena.
Some Indian National Congress leaders had even mocked at Nationalist Congress Party's poll prospects, asserting that Mr Pawar's outfit would be compelled to merge with it.
There were also corruption charges against him and his nephew Ajit Pawar. But when it came to poll management, the 79-year-old patriarch has yet again proved his mettle.
Another important takeaway from the Maharashtra polls this year is the manner Shiv Sena was able to put up a spirited fight and has perhaps enhanced its bargaining power vis-a-vis BJP.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray hinted that all may not be so well with its longtime partner.
"We have been accommodating during the Lok Sabha elections. But I can't keep doing that anymore. I have to make sure my party flourishes," he said tongue-in-cheek.
In the ultimate analysis, NCP is now set to win at least 56 assembly seats from the 123 it contested at an average strike rate of 43.5 per cent.
The INC, having contested as many as 145 seats, would win around 46 at a strike rate of 31.7 per cent.
The prestigious post of Leader of the Opposition in state Assembly would come to NCP now and also importantly, it's tally is not far behind Shiv Sena - which is likely to win 57 seats out of 124 it contested. (UNI)