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Pawar and Power – Part 1

The topic which I chose to write an edit on, might take at least volumes in book form but I will try to be concise and will complete in two parts. These days, Sharad Pawar is again in news for supporting BJP. Both parties have many ideological differences, but Pawar manage to be hand in gloves with saffron party and became ‘saviour’ for government, which jolted voters those use their franchise for this party. Sharad Pawar is known for compromising with the ideology, time and again for his political ambitions. He splits Congress Party and forms his own Nationalist Congress Party after attacking Sonia Gandhi over her nationality, but again aligned with Congress Party in Maharashtra to remain in power. Maharashtra will become orphan without him, as he is the only game changer and actual politician from the state. Maharashtra state reached it’s peaks in central politics because of Pawar. However, we cannot deny the fact that he is the most corrupt leader. Ninety per cent members of his party are criminals and cheaters, but the remaining 10 per cent are the strength of the party. They have good command in rural areas and they are real grass root politicians of Maharashtra. It is for sure that if anything happens to Pawar then the party would be shattered. All senior leaders will merge with BJP and small leaders will join other regional parties. NCP will lose its existence.

Ajit Pawar is the most hated and rejected leader in NCP. He is at the mercy of Sr. Pawar in the party. Party workers are fed up with his ‘Dada’giri and no one wants to work under his leadership. Pawar’s daughter, Supriya Sule is amateur and yet to prove her mettle in politics. People thought Shiv Sena would be fading after Balasaheb but Uddhav Thackeray proved his capacity by winning respectable number of seats in Assembly election by going solo without bowing down to the dictatorship of BJP. Anyways, NCP will fade away after Pawar. Pawar is ‘king’ and ‘kingmaker’ of Maharashtra politics. He is having enormous grassroots knowledge. He knows every district and taluka of Maharashtra upside down. He knows ‘kaalakaandi’ of every politician. Pawar is known as a great talent-spotter. He was the one who suggested a political career for Sub-Inspector Sushilkumar Shinde way back in 1973 and Shinde became Chief Minister of Maharashtra. He also convinced and encouraged Chhagan Bhujbal to quit the Shiv Sena and join the Congress in December 1990, giving Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray a big jolt. Bhujbal later became deputy chief minister of Maharashtra.

He has interest not only in politics but also in cricket. He was the elected Chairman of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. He was President of International Cricket Council, apex body for Cricket in the world. He presently serves as a President of Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA). He has been actively involved in the affairs of United Nations and World Health Organization. He represented India as a leader of Disaster Management Team for United Nations. He also has an impressive record with United Nations for excellent management of recovering Latur from an earthquake within a short time. “Marquis Who’s Who” is a US publisher of a number of books containing short biographical sketches of celebrated persons, describes influential world leaders over the last 100 years. Biography of Sharad Pawar has been enlisted in “Marquis Who’s Who”. Only three other Indian politicians i.e., P. V. Narasimha Rao, Manmohan Singh and Shankarrao Chavan have been included in this contemporary biographical library. This Maratha strongman was born on 12th December 1940 in Katewadi village in Pune District.

In 1967, he made his first entry to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly from Baramati. In 1961, Yashwantrao Chavan became the first Chief Minister of Maharashtra after the division of Bombay province into two states, Maharashtra and Gujarat and subsequently, Deputy Prime Minister of India. Yashwantrao Chavan was political mentor of Sharad Pawar. Sharad Pawar broke away from the Congress to form an alliance government with Janata party. In February 1980, when Mrs. Indira Gandhi returned to power at the centre, this Progressive Democratic Front government was dismissed. In the elections that followed, the Congress party won majority seats in the state assembly and A.R. Antulay, took over as the chief minister of the state. Sharad Pawar remained an opposition leader in the state assembly. For the first time, he won Lok Sabha election from Baramati parliamentary constituency in 1984. He also won in assembly election of March 1985 from Baramati. He preferred to continue in state politics and resigned from the Lok Sabha. In 1985 elections, while his Congress (S) won 54 seats out of 288 in the state assembly, he became the leader of the opposition. In 1987, Sharad Pawar decided to return to the Congress(I) fold after being out of it for over nine years. In June 1988, with the induction of Prime Minister and Congress President Rajiv Gandhi, Maharashtra Chief Minister Shankarrao Chavan was called into Union Cabinet as Finance Minister and Sharad Pawar was chosen to replace Chavan as chief minister. Sharad Pawar had the task of checking the rise of the Shiv Sena in state politics, which was a potential challenge to the dominance of Congress party in the state.

In 1989 Lok Sabha elections, Congress party won 28 seats out of 48 in Maharashtra. Though, the Congress party maintained a respectable place in the state and was not routed as in some other states like Rajasthan and Gujarat. The loss meant a loss of 15 seats compared to 1984. In February 1990, in the state assembly elections, Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party provided a stiff challenge to the Congress. Though the Congress managed to retain power, it fell short of an absolute majority in the state assembly for the first time, winning 141 seats out 288. Sharad Pawar was sworn in as a chief minister again on March 4, 1990 with the support of 12 independent MLAs. Sharad Pawar led the campaign for the Congress for the mid-term parliamentary elections of 1991 in Maharashtra. As a result, the Congress bettered its performance by winning 38 seats out of 48 in the state. During the course of election campaign, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. There were rumours that Pawar’s name was being considered for the Prime Minister’s post along with those of P.V. Narasimha Rao and Arjun Singh. However the Congress Parliamentary Party elected P.V. Narasimha Rao as its leader and he was sworn in as Prime Minister on June 21, 1991. Sharad Pawar became Defence Minister and continued till March 1993. After Pawar’s success in Maharashtra, Sudhakarrao Naik stepped down, Rao sent Pawar back as a chief minister of the state. He was sworn in as chief minister for the fourth and most controversial term on March 6, 1993. Almost immediately, Mumbai, the financial capital of India and the state capital of Maharashtra, was rocked with series of bomb blasts on March 12, 1993. I’m concluding here because of page constraint, will bring you part II and final part tomorrow. Please read the final part tomorrow, to know about Sharad Pawar’s next 20 years of journey.

Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 14 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazine Beyond The News (international). She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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