Sunday, June 4, 2023

Pawar play again

Sharad Pawar — the wily politician and grand old man of Maharashtra politics — has shown why he remains among the most astute and perceptive politicians India has seen. He has a fascinating quality of being in two places at one time or the ability to prevail over friends and foes alike. In the latest instance, Pawar stunned his party and especially his ambitious and rebellious nephew Ajit Pawar by announcing his resignation as the president of Nationalist Congress Party(NCP) , a party he helped form on 10 June 1999, along with P. A. Sangma, and Tariq Anwar. According to media reports, Pawar had been pondering on resigning as a means to scuttle moves by his nephew to split the NCP and take over as party chief. However the wily uncle pre-empted the move by announcing his resignation. He did not announce it at a meeting with party leaders nor did he give any inkling about what he was going to do. Pawar dropped the bombshell at an event where he was to launch his autobiography on May 2. Pawar has been the main driver behind the formation of Maha Vikas Aghadi or Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in 2019. WHen his nephew ran away with some dozen MLAs to join the Fadnavis BJP government and sworn in as deputy chief minister in December 2019 in an overnight coup; Sharad played his cards. Within 80 hours of taking oath as the deputy chief minister, Sharad unmasked Ajit’s ambition by making him switch sides twice in three days. While Pawar is crystal clear about his resignation and the announcement, party people have a different story to narrate. While others questioned the announcement as a pre-planned political stunt, since the announcement came following Pawar’s daughter and NCP MP Supriya Sule’s remark hinting at two biggest-ever political explosions to happen in Delhi and Maharashtra. According to media reports, party veterans see the enior leader’s masterstroke as a move to hold back his nephew and leader of NCP, Ajit Pawar from joining hands with BJP. The succession in the NCP is still a matter of speculation but it is most likely that Sharad’s daughter Supriya Sule will be the next NCP president. The troublesome nephew is also likely to be made as state party president , thus paving the way for him to be the next chief minister if the MVA retains power. Pawar wants a bigger role than being chief of a party while vacating the chair for his daughter and the state chief for his nephew. In the end, what has been played out within the NCP over the years is the fact that the dynastic party shows no interest in at least moving a small step by infusing no family leaders at the helm. Ajit has shown he has no qualms about betraying his uncle and the party for the sake of power. That’s why some see his recent overtures to BJP as a desire to get back to power as deputy chief minister again while Fadnavis upgrades himself to chief minister and Eknath Shinde as the second deputy chief minister. Pawar may not be NCP chief anymore after resigning from the post but he ensures that he will remain pivotal in national and Maharashtra politics.


Repent at leisure

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