NCP strongman Sharad Pawar’s Satara speech eats into BJP's tally

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on October 24, 2019

Iconic speech NCP leader Sharad Pawar addressing his party workers in Satara last week during a campaign

Sources close to the Maratha leader say that he might offer support to Shiv Sena

Over the last 50 years, politics in Maharashtra has revolved around Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar and at the age of 79 he is once again at the centre of the State politics.

While the BJP had discarded his Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) as incompetent, Pawar has wrestled to win more than 50 seats.

A deciding factor

While the BJP-Sena combine leaders were asking Pawar to retire from politics, the old man had other plans. Today, he holds the key to control the political roller-coaster in the State.

Even as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray today said that they would continue the alliance and form the next government, the behind-the-scene developments are not so cordial.

Sharad Pawar has rejected any possibility of supporting Shiv Sena to keep the BJP out of power. Sources close to the Maratha strongman told BusinessLine that the NCP was open to support Sena if it asks for it.

Even Congress leaders, including former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, told the media that all options were open.

BJP-Sena camp

The BJP is struggling to get a majority on its own and is banking on Sena to form the government. Sena leaders are flexing muscles, putting pressure on the BJP leadership.

Sharad Pawar’s grandson Rohit Pawar, who won Karjat-Jamkhed seat, while speaking to regional media said that new equations might emerge in the State, but the final call will be taken by NCP’s senior leaders.

Political pundits have unanimously declared Pawar Man of the Match. Political observer and scribe Mohan Patil said that Pawar’s grit and fierce campaign across the State baffled the BJP.

Satara rally

“Even as PM Modi, Amit Shah, Fadnavis and many central ministers were campaigning in the State, Pawar single-handedly led the Opposition without any help from the Congress. His Satara rally was a major boost to NCP and Congress workers,” said Patil.

As heavy showers lashed Satara last week during his campaign, Pawar roared from the dais refusing to take an umbrella saying that a leader must not cover himself when his party workers are fighting rains.

The picture went viral on social media.

Tackling turncoats

With his lieutenants including sitting MLAs and close relatives deserting the party to join BJP and Sena camp, Pawar was probably fighting one of the toughest battles of his political life.

The Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) move to register a money laundering case against him snowballed into a major political issue and Pawar made it an election agenda and turned the tide on the BJP.

Chhatrapati Shivaji’s scion Udayanraje Bhosale, who left the NCP to join the BJP, was defeated in the Satara Lok Sabha by-election.

He was elected as NCP MP from Satara in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, but resigned to contest the by-election as BJP candidate. Pawar has regained his strength in Maharashtra’s sugar bowl.

Despite the fantastic performance, Pawar is not ready to stop.

“ I am going to tour the State. My confidence has multiplied because of the response I got from youth. The new leadership is emerging. I am going to build and strengthen my party’s base,” Pawar told media in Mumbai.

Published on October 24, 2019

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