NCP Chief Sharad Pawar Shows Who’s The Boss When It Comes To Maharashtra Politics
By Manjunath K. Shresthi
The recently held assembly elections in the states of Haryana and Maharashtra threw up interesting results. The voter showed his choice of preferences and made clear as to what they were? The overselling of nationalism and hyped up show of promoting Article 370 did not yield the electoral results that the BJP was interested in reaping. The results were nowhere near to the figures that the BJP expected and their over inflated expectations were punctured post the results on October 24. Haryana threw a hung verdict; the BJP got 40 seats out of a total of 90 seats, and their high expectation of winning a total of 75 seats was a tall order and left them embarrassed as they had clean swept in the general elections five months back. The Congress finally got its act together when the old guard chose the old war horse, the former Chief Minister of Haryana Bhupinder Singh Hooda and he gave the BJP a scare and under his leadership the party won 31 seats. Dushyant Chautala’s fledgling party (JJP) won 10 seats and got to call the shots and emerged as the kingmaker by promising support and agreeing to become a part of the coalition with the BJP.
But the leader who put up a tough fight and showed the stuff he’s made up of is the Maratha strongman from Baramati, and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar. During the run up to the elections, his party was severely handicapped with a host of defections and some of his party men quit the NCP and joined the BJP and Shiv Sena (SS). Sharad Pawar first put on a display of his political acumen, when he agreed to visit the ED office in south Mumbai and the NCP cadre was in full strength to support him there, and at the last moment the NCP Chief was asked not to visit the office. He outwitted the ruling party in the centre and in the state and inspired his party workers who were demoralised. This single event filled his party workers and supporters with the much needed energy and enthusiasm and they decided to put a brave fight against the BJP-SS combine.
The NCP cadre and the voters of Maharashtra saw the true grit and determination of the 79-year-old Maratha warrior when he campaigned for the Satara Lok Sabha seat which was won by the NCP in May 2019 elections. But the sitting MP turned out to be a turncoat, quit the party, and a by election was necessitated as he resigned from the seat and joined the BJP. The NCP chief appealed to the voters and admitted that he made a mistake in giving the LS seat to the defector and this he did when there was a heavy downpour. Sharad Pawar continued his speech in spite of being heavily drenched and the voters again saw the tough side of the strongman of Baramati. The Satara Lok Sabha seat fell into the NCP’s basket and Shrinivas Patil defeated the BJP candidate. When the final results came in the NCP won 54 assembly seats and bettered their score margin from the last election.
The large number of rallies held by the trio of Prime Minister Narendra Modi; Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis held in Maharashtra did not help them cross the 225+ figure they boasted of and the results were below their expectations. The BJP did worse than the last assembly elections of 2014 and had to be content with 105 seats and lost 17 seats to their final tally; the Shiv Sena (SS) too won 56 seats and was less than the tally of 63 seats it won the last time. The Shiv Sena has realised the precarious position that the BJP is in and is now bargaining for the rotation of Chief Minister’s post with its larger ally. The government formation in the western state will take place post Diwali and one will never know what surprises may be in store?