Sharad Pawar proves again why he is The Khiladi No 1 of Indian politics

Sharad Pawar has always lived his political life by his own wishes. He fought with Congress while remaining within Congress and even after getting disqualified from the party he made a grand comeback into the party.

Sharad Pawar
Sharad Pawar Chief of NCP (Photo Courtesy: Indian Express)

Sharad Pawar entered Indian politics probably in the 1960s and even after 60 decades he is still one of the main players of Indian politics. What makes Pawar always relevant in India’s politics is his enigmatic way of functioning. You will never know what Sharadrao will do next when there is a political crisis either in Maharashtra or in Indian politics. Just last week his enigmatic personality created a political whirlpool in Maharashtra politics but that can have large implications on the national politics as well.

After a long political journey, Sharad Pawar chose his nephew Ajit Pawar as his most trustworthy, or in other words his right-hand man at least in Maharashtra politics. But as it happens in Indian politics that blood proves itself thicker than anything else and Pawar started to promote his daughter Supriya Sule to become his successor and not Ajit who has been his trustworthy general in all the wars he fought in Maharashtra politics.

Well, it was natural for Ajit Pawar to show his descent and he started taking Maharashtra Nationalist Congress Party or the NCP legislators on his side two weeks back there was an imminent threat of the party may break into two pieces. Although this wasn’t the first time that Ajit Pawar got into rebel mode. In 2019 in an early morning coup, Ajit Pawar suddenly joined hands with BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis and became Maharashtra’s, Deputy Chief Minister. But he lasted long just three days before Sharad Pawar convinced him to come back to his foil.

But, this time it looked serious as even Sanjay Raut gave a hint that all is not well in the NCP  and news was making rounds that as many as 40 NCP MLAs of Maharashtra are with Ajit Pawar and waiting for his signal to join the BJP. Last week even Supriya Sule gave a hint that we will experience two political blasts in the next 15 days, one in Maharashtra and the other at the national level. Everyone thought that not only Ajit Pawar but even Sharad Pawar is now ready to join hands with the BJP both in Maharashtra and at the national level.

If this speculation were so easy to materialize then senior Pawar’s enigmatic personality would have definitely got a major dent. So on the 2nd of May, he resigned from the post of NCP chief and created a kind of political earthquake in his party. Was this the first blast that Supriya Sule hinted at just a few days back? Well, if it were so easy then it would have come from someone else and not Sharadrao Pawar for sure. Yesterday on the 5th of May first thing in the morning the NCP core committee met and rejected Pawar’s resignation and by the evening senior Pawar withdrew it as well.

This is where Sharad Pawar is different than any other Indian politician living today. First, there was speculation created that not only Ajit Pawar but the entire NCP may join hands, if not merged, with the BJP. That put Ajit Pawar and his supportive MLAs in confusion then Ajit Pawar himself had to come in public and had to say that he will remain in NCP forever. After Ajit Pawar’s backtracking senior Pawar took charge of the situation and just to check how many NCP guys are with him he did this drama of resignation.

As we have witnessed time and again that when a political party is centered on one person or a family its cadre can’t see its future without them. Here too after Sharad Pawar’s resignation suddenly the top leaders of NCP and also the cadre felt insecure and also started to worry about their political future and hence they too resigned from their posts to show solidarity with the senior Pawar. Now Sharad Pawar knows that when it comes to taking tough decisions NCP leaders will remain with him and not with Ajit Pawar.

On the other hand, this resignation drama by his uncle Ajit Pawar must be on the back foot and will need to try another strategy to keep those 40 MLAs with him. He wasn’t present when Pawar withdrew his resignation in a press conference which shows that all is still not well in the NCP. Time is also running out from nephew Pawar as Maharashtra will have an assembly election in November-December next year. If Ajit Pawar has to switch sides it should be now or at the most in the next two to three months. If that is not going to happen then he will need to wait till the next year’s elections get over. But then the chances are that he may not have the leverage of 40-odd MLAs and even BJP may not feel that he is still important to them. There are chances that even NCP may start to ignore Ajit Pawar by the time elections arrive and thus he may have nowhere to go.

Sharad Pawar has always lived his political life by his own wishes. He fought with Congress while remaining within Congress and even after getting disqualified from the party he made a grand comeback into the party. Not only that he also become Chief Minister of Maharashtra from the Congress Party. In the 1990s he even split the Congress party in the name of Sonia Gandhi’s nationality issue and formed NCP when he thought along with probably Pranab Mukherjee that his importance in the Congress is getting minimized. Unlike Pranab Mukherjee Pawar took the tough decision to form his own party yet he could insert his NCP men into the UPA government as ministers that lasted for a decade and whose chairperson was none other than Sonia Gandhi herself.

The only time when Sharad Pawar found clueless was when last year Eknath Shinde successfully marshaled a grand coup in Shiv Sena and formed a government with the BJP right under the nose of senior Pawar. If you are thinking that how can the NCP chief stop a coup of another party then you do not understand Sharad Pawar’s politics. His NCP was actually a majority partner in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government and had he had even a small clue about what Shinde and Fadanvis are up to he would have failed that coup without sweating much.

Despite splitting Congress Pawar maintained good relations with Sonia Gandhi and that is why he had his ministers in the UPA government. Despite being political enemies Sharadrao Pawar has always maintained a great friendship with Bala Saheb Thackeray and is maintaining the same with Narendra Modi as well. So to make it simple one can say that Sharad Pawar no matter how deep the political differences are keeps good relations with those persons so in their time of need he gets help from them.

This is how he works and this is why Sharad Pawar is still Khiladi No 1 of Indian politics.

That’s all from me for today, till we meet next time it’s Avjo!

6th May 2023, Saturday




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