Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar took a swipe at his age critics on Sunday, saying that he had not grown old and still had the power to “straighten some people out.” Pawar was speaking at a bullock cart race programme organised on the occasion of his birthday in Haveli taluka of Pune’s rural part.
Addressing the crowd, Sharad Pawar said, “I have a complaint with you people. You people often comment on my age that I am 84 years old, I am 83 years old, what have you people seen in me till now? I have not become old. I still have so much strength in me. I can straighten some people out.” Pawar also spoke about the bullock cart racing event, saying that it could be included in the Olympics if planned decisions are taken.
“This event is a competition of speed, strength and determination. If planned decisions are taken, then I am confident that this event can be brought to par with many other sporting events in the world, and you (bullock cart racing organisers) are doing other work as well,” he added. His statement is seen as a clear rebuttal to his opponents, who have often targeted him for his age and called for his retirement from politics.
Notably, his nephew, Ajit Pawar, has made similar comments in the past. Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar took a jibe at Sharad Pawar on July 5 and said that IAS officers retire at 60, BJP leaders retire at 75, and you are 83, Are you not going to stop?
“You portrayed me as a villain in front of everyone. I still have deep respect for him (Sharad Pawar)…But you tell me, IAS officers retire at 60…even in politics – BJP leaders retire at 75. You can see the example of LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi…That allows the new generation to rise…” said Ajit Pawar. “You (Sharad Pawar) give us your blessings…The other day, he went to YB Chavan memorial…I have also been there…but you are 83, aren’t you going to stop?…Give us your blessings and we will pray that you live a long life,” said the Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar while addressing party legislators and other workers in Bandra on July 5.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his greetings to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on his 83rd birthday on December 12. Taking to the social media platform ‘X’, PM Narendra Modi said, “My best wishes to Shri Sharad Pawar Ji on his birthday. May he be blessed with a long and healthy life.”
Pawar founded the NCP in 1999. He became an MLA for the first time at the young age of 27, before becoming the youngest Chief Minister of the state at the age of 38 in 1978. The four-time chief minister of Maharashtra has also served as Defence Minister. He was Agriculture Minister in the cabinet of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He was the first and former president of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which was founded in 1999 after separating from the Indian National Congress.
Sharad Pawar founded the NCP after his ouster from Congress. He, Tariq Anwar and PA Sangma raised a revolt in the Congress Working Committee on the issue of Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin, leading to a split in the party. NCP soon earned the recognition of a national party after registering its presence in the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Meghalaya and Manipur. However, it lost the tag this year. Pawar belongs to rural Maharashtra and is sometimes referred to as ‘Chanakya’ in political circles. He played a crucial role in the formation of Maha Vikas Aghadi, the alliance between Congress, Shiv Sena and the NCP.
Maharashtra is set to undergo polls next year. The Mahavikas Aghadi, comprising the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, which came to power in the state, collapsed after Eknath Shinde revolted and joined hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) along with MLAs of the Shiv Sena. This led to the formation of the Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde faction)-BJP government in the state.
A year later, Ajit Pawar, from the NCP, revolted against his party chief and joined hands with the BJP along with some of his party colleagues. The state is now run by the Mahayuti alliance, comprising the BJP, Shiv Sena, led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and the Ajit Pawar faction of the NCP.