Raj Thackeray, now the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has registered an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) in connection with the Maharashtra State Co-operative (MSC) Bank fraud case against Sharad Pawar and his nephew and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and 70 other officials of MSC Bank. It is alleged that MSC Bank had sanctioned loans in a fraudulent manner to office bearers and directors of local co-operative sugar factories (CSFs), spinning mills and other processing units, and also to the bank’s then top executives. The scam is pegged at Rs 25,000 crore. The second rung of the NCP, mostly those controlling co-operatives and education institutes, sees advantage in being on the ruling side since they not only have to safeguard their own turfs, but also safeguard their own future as many of them have been accused of irregularities and are facing cases at various levels. Added to this, are the financial problems facing the cooperative institutes that they have been running?fter hammering
From cornering a 23 per cent vote share and 58 seats out of 288 in the 1999 Maharashtra assembly polls, the NCP had a good start. However, excessive reliance on one community– the numerically strong Marathas–became a handicap for the party as the community switched its allegiance to the BJP in 2014. As a result, the NCP did not just lose Marathwada, but also western Maharashtra, its stronghold where the Marathas are in large numbers.
Pawar, who is now old yet active on the ground may once have taken pride in grooming the second rank leadership? These days Sharad Pawar has been underlining one thing categorically. That he is still young and ready to take on the BJP-Sena in the assembly polls. The message is clear – Pawar does not want the cadre to be demoralised further especially after the series of desertions.
At 79, Pawar, who has been Maharashtra’s chief minister for a record four terms, is fighting a lonely battle with some of his senior-most associates and staunch supporters like Vijaysinh Mohite Patil, Padmasinh Patil and Madhukar Pichad, leaving him. If the consecutive defeats, one after another since 2014, have reduced his political power in Delhi to an insignificant level, another drubbing in the forthcoming Maharashtra assembly polls may cast an end for his Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), for which survival without power is difficult. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), formed by Pawar in 1999 after rebelling in the Congress, has spent 15 out of 20 years of its existence enjoying power. The party that enjoyed fruits of being in government at various levels – starting from major local bodies, state and Centre – is now in uncharted territory. Frankly speaking Sharad Pawar is one of the wisest politicians in India. Now if that wisdom is really being used for the welfare of society or not is a different topic. But he surely has best managerial skills. His political ambitions and his next generation’s marginal contribution made it difficult for him. He is corrupt or not that court has to decide. But Sharad Pawar, once said, “It is wrong on part of banks to demand the return of the loan in 12 months because sometime sugarcane matures in 12 months or sometime in 15 months”.
He is never found or never has been prosecuted for engaging in corruption. Whether he is honest or corrupt, in the absence of the irrefutable evidence, is difficult to be contended. But the fact remains that, while he was working as the Central Cabinet Minister, and being the senior most, always was offered the No. 2 or 3 posts in the cabinet, but he always choose the one that connected him with his roots. His roots always were with the agriculture and farmers. All political leaders in India agree that Pawar is only a tall leader who knows in and out of the agriculture, from crop growing to the crop processing, from prominent farmers in a village to the prominent merchants selling the agricultural produce, many he knows personally. When he travels to remote villages in Maharashtra, he would know at least ten farmers in that village by name. Farmers in Maharashtra call him ‘Jaanta Raja’ a term reserved in Maharashtra for King Shivaji. His contribution to farmers in last five decades has been immense. The farmers need credit; he established thousands of cooperative societies and banks. The farmer needs subsidies to make the cost of production viable he introduced many. The farmers need expertise to guide them on good agricultural practices he established agricultural extension centers. The farmers needed a market for their products he established many. If farmers have milk, he established thousands of dairies and milk processing centers. The farmers needed someone to buy his raw sugarcane; he established hundreds of sugar mills. The farmers needed someone to buy his raw cotton; he established thousands of ginning and pressing units to make the cotton bales for exports. The farmers needed the marketing centers near his reach; he established hundreds of marketing federations.
His political rivals always call him royal enemy, better to be with than with wicked friend. He always lived with principles. He is someone who is hated as well as loved, whether it is Shiv Sena, Congress or the BJP. He is most vocal about himself and that is one of the reasons, which again evokes popularity. Who knows controversies better than me? The controversies always chase people who are active and decision makers.
Anna Hazare had his campaign running successfully. Someday somebody slapped Sharad Pawar. Anna made a public comment “Ek hi gaal pe mara kya!”. Sharad Pawar retorted him with saying “May be that’s what an ideology Anna carries about non-violence.. “. That day hence Anna’s popularity started decreasing. And we all know what happened to his hunger strike on Azad Maidan Mumbai. It was a complete failure. Sharad Pawar has a great presence of mind. During 1993 Bombay blast, Pawar announced on Doordarshan that the Masjid Bunder was the 12th placed where explosion happened. Actually there wasn’t any explosion at Masjid Bunder at all. But after this announcement Hindus and Muslims thought that the blasts were not targeted at any particular community and the government was able to restore normal life fast. On the grounds of riots happened earlier after Babri demolition, this one bomb explosion, which Sharad Pawar exploded, actually saved many lives and public property. I am not a fan of Sharad Pawar and not a follower or member of NCP at all. There are lots of rumours especially in Maharashtra about this person’s personal wealth, his past, his political strategies and games he plays. But I must say one thing. This man really could have made a huge difference to this country if he had acted accordingly.
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