New Pawar play

by December 5, 2019 0 comments

By exposing the BJP, the NCP leader is warning it against topple moves and at the same time reassuring Cong, Sena

They say one can never trust Sharad Pawar, the politician, no matter how large-hearted and generous a host he is on home ground at Baramati. Call him a pragmatist, negotiator, bargainer or flipper, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief is on the high table of all politicians. He may have broken away from the Congress over ideology but knows his mantras are no good without a practical module to execute them. That explains his opportunistic alliances to have a shot at power, aligning with the Congress even though he rebelled against it or even supporting the polar opposite of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). So when he crafted a series of interviews, detailing how he was offered a deal on Maharashtra by Prime Minister Narendra Modi no less, it seemed contrary to his level-headed neutrality. In fact, it seemed too much of an aberrant behaviour. For exposing the BJP, currently being battered over its constitutional misadventure in that State, is one thing, implicating Modi quite the other. That too spilling the beans on a private conversation where the tradeoff was clearly spelt out —  cooperating with the BJP at the State level in return for a Central Ministry for Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule. He has also demanded reopening the Sohrabuddin encounter case and judge Loya’s death, both of which can put Home Minister Amit Shah in a spot. Going by past vindictiveness of the Modi-Shah duo, why would Pawar risk burning his bridges with the BJP leadership that he had bailed out before? On the face of it, it could be read as his game of one-upmanship, one where he was avenging the BJP’s games of poaching on his turf and engineering defections in the NCP before the Assembly polls. Then there was the slew of corruption cases stacked up against his kin. Pushing 80, probably the Maratha warrior thought that he had to fight his last political battle zealously and morally. And he did, winning the bypolls in Satara, the seat of Chhatrapati Shivaji, where he campaigned under the rains and ensured the defeat of his rebel and Shivaji’s descendant Udayanraje Bhonsle. The verdict meant a re-anointment of Pawar as a true keeper of the Marathi legacy, one that drew him to Shiv Sena’s local-centric and cultural vision. In fact, Pawar was careful enough to clarify that Sena was always upfront about Hindutva, too, but did not bring that to governance and administration, carefully separating it from the BJP’s impassioned politics of nationalism. He even reiterated that the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi Government was committed to the Common Minimum Programme. The Sena daily, Saamna, became his spokesman noting how Modi called the NCP as a “Naturally Corrupt Party” and Amit Shah questioned Pawar’s contribution to Maharashtra before the State polls. Its editorial asked, “If all that was true, then what kind of benefit was the BJP anticipating from NCP’s experience?”

However, revenge would be too easy an explanation when it comes to Pawar. He is not explosive but Machiavellian. And at the end of the day, everybody believes that Ajit Pawar’s palace coup was probably stage-managed to build some momentum in the Congress camp to shed inhibitions and join the government. Or given BJP MP Anant Hegde’s wild claim that the temporary swearing-in was done to access Rs 40,000 crore of funds and divert them, making Ajit a fall guy would seem perfect, assuming this hypothetical scenario did happen. Also, contrary to constant rebuttals of the bhakt brigade, it is rather odd that no denial has come from the BJP leadership on Pawar’s expose. Can this, therefore, mean that the deeper understanding of the old warhorses continues while a divergence of opinions is being highlighted on the surface? After all, it is only Pawar who needs to convey that he is indeed worthy of trust. Particularly for the Congress, whose advisers have time and again been warning their chief Sonia Gandhi that she needs to be wary about him and not go in for the Aghadi experiment at all. But Sonia did give in ultimately to the State legislators, who wanted to be relevant and shore up their bases. Are the interviews, therefore, Pawar’s attempt to clear the clouds over his integrity and appear righteous? This serves him both ways, he can still be considered as a strong anchor of the Opposition and by some public shaming, rein in the BJP from getting adventurous about toppling the Aghadi coalition. At least he will be the helmsman till his next masterstroke or chicanery, depending on which side of the prism you are looking at.

(Courtesy: The Pioneer)

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