In a direct challenge to her former party chief Sharad Pawar, Shalinitai even specified that her party workers had urged her to field a candidate from Baramati, a Pawar stronghold. "We want to send as many people to Parliament as possible so that our party's view and philosophy is heard clearly," she said.

The widow of former Maharashtra chief minister Vasantdada Patil–known as the first Maratha strongman–Shalinitai is a high-profile legislator from Koregaon in Satara district. She joined the NCP in 1999 but was expelled for her open criticism of the Centre's move to extend 27.5 per cent reservation to OBCs in the central academic institutes such as IITs and IIMs.

Steering away from her party stand, Shalinitai had lauded Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray for his stand against reservations on the basis of caste, supporting quotas only for the economically backward groups. She had demanded that the creamy layer across communities should be excluded from the quota system.

Moving away from her earlier rigid stand, Shalinitai came out in support of the recent demand for reservations for Marathas. Speaking at a meeting of her party, Shalinitai did a volte-face, saying that the Marathas were too big a community for any political party to displease. "However, I maintain that the economically backward classes across all communities should be given reservation. At least 50 per cent of Maharashtra's population needs quotas," she added.

Shalinitai hails from western Maharashtra, a region dominated by Marathas. Analysing the current political situation, Patil said that Raj Thackeray's Marathi manoos issue would find support only in urban Maharashtra. She even praised Narayan Rane's drive and hold over his constituency. "Since he is angry with the Congress and the Shiv Sena's doors are closed for him, Rane's best option is to launch his own party. And he has the capacity to do well," she said.

While Shalinitai hasn't chosen her political allies yet, she is keeping all options open with parties other than the Congress and NCP combine.In a direct challenge to her former party chief Sharad Pawar, Shalinitai even specified that her party workers had urged her to field a candidate from Baramati, a Pawar stronghold. "We want to send as many people to Parliament as possible so that our party's view and philosophy is heard clearly," she said.

The widow of former Maharashtra chief minister Vasantdada Patil–known as the first Maratha strongman–Shalinitai is a high-profile legislator from Koregaon in Satara district. She joined the NCP in 1999 but was expelled for her open criticism of the Centre's move to extend 27.5 per cent reservation to OBCs in the central academic institutes such as IITs and IIMs.

Steering away from her party stand, Shalinitai had lauded Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray for his stand against reservations on the basis of caste, supporting quotas only for the economically backward groups. She had demanded that the creamy layer across communities should be excluded from the quota system.

Moving away from her earlier rigid stand, Shalinitai came out in support of the recent demand for reservations for Marathas. Speaking at a meeting of her party, Shalinitai did a volte-face, saying that the Marathas were too big a community for any political party to displease. "However, I maintain that the economically backward classes across all communities should be given reservation. At least 50 per cent of Maharashtra's population needs quotas," she added.

Shalinitai hails from western Maharashtra, a region dominated by Marathas. Analysing the current political situation, Patil said that Raj Thackeray's Marathi manoos issue would find support only in urban Maharashtra. She even praised Narayan Rane's drive and hold over his constituency. "Since he is angry with the Congress and the Shiv Sena's doors are closed for him, Rane's best option is to launch his own party. And he has the capacity to do well," she said.

While Shalinitai hasn't chosen her political allies yet, she is keeping all options open with parties other than the Congress and NCP combine.

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