Rajat Sharma

How Sharad Pawar emerged as the ‘Mahanayak’ of Maharashtra politics

AKB2610The uncertainty is over and the picture is clearer now. Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray will be the new chief minister of Maharashtra, and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar will be at the centre of state politics, keeping a close eye on the Maha Vikas Aaghadi coalition government. The single largest party BJP will sit in the opposition.

The prodigal nephew Ajit Pawar has now said, ‘I was in NCP, I am in NCP and I shall stay in NCP’, meaning that his homecoming is complete. May be he could be made a minister in the new government, and if that happens, tongues may wag and people may say that the entire circus could be Sharad Pawar’s making.

People could say that Sharad Pawar first trapped the Shiv Sena and sent his nephew to the BJP camp, but I think this surmise may not be correct. After watching the political imbroglio in Maharashtra for two months, one can say that what Sharad Pawar said on Monday was true. Pawar had said, BJP should not consider Maharashtra as Goa, Karnataka or Manipur, and any cunning step will not work. Pawar proved this true on Tuesday.

On an overall assessment, whatever has happened cannot be attributed as Uddhav Thackeray’s victory or BJP’s defeat. It portrayed the deft political skills and management of Sharad Pawar.

BJP made a mistake in making an enemy out of Pawar. The 78-year-old political warhorse had already called it a day and had announced that he was retiring from politics and would not contest elections. When the ruling dispensation sent CBI and ED after him and his associates like Praful Patel, the old warhorse decided to re-enter the fray and took the BJP head-on.

He put in his best during the election campaign and addressed crowds despite heavy downpour. When the election results went in favour of BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, he was disappointed, but the Shiv Sena ‘fruit’ fell on its own, into his lap. It was then that Sharad Pawar fought back like a tiger.

He first befriended the Shiv Sena and persistently persuaded the Congress to join the alliance. After tying up the alliance and declaring Uddhav as the leader, he went home, only to find that his nephew had revolted. Even at this old age, Pawar remained awake late into the night and kept the alliance intact.

Look at the irony. First the Congress suspected him when Pawar called on Prime Minister Modi to discuss drought situation, and now the BJP is suspecting that Pawar sent his nephew to their camp to show the ruling party in a bad light. Ultimately, Pawar won, and he has become the ‘mahanayak’ (great hero) of Maharashtra politics.

The outgoing chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who ran the state government for five years commendably, ultimately cut a sorry figure. For five whole years, Shiv Sena criticized his government, made caustic remarks which even the Opposition leaders never made, and yet, during election time, Fadnavis agreed to an electoral alliance.

When the results were out, Uddhav Thackeray joined hands with Sharad Pawar, and when the latter’s nephew came calling, he trusted his words that he had the requisite number of NCP MLAs with him. Ultimately, he lost the gambit, but I would say, ‘to cheat is a sin, and to be cheated is not a sin’.

And Uddhav Thackeray? It was his stubbornness for the chief minister’s chair that ultimately paid off. It was Sharad Pawar who did all the work for him. In the process, Uddhav broke many traditions.

For the first time in the Thackeray family, his son Aditya contested and won the assembly elections. A Thackeray will now become a CM for the first time. It was Udhav who gave his party’s saffron ideology the go-by and joined hands with the Congress. It remains to be seen how he will run the three-party coalition government given the fact that he has had no experience in administration.

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