End of Pawar’s ‘power’ games!

With the general elections due in less than a year, political churning seems to have begun. And, the determined Modi-Shah duo heading the BJP’s successful poll strategists looks more aggressive than ever before, not only to return to power with a bang but also completely wipe the ‘Opposition parties’ from India’s democratic political canvas. This was evident from the way 40 out of 53 MLAs, besides two MPs, on Sunday afternoon, opts to walk out from NCP and join the Maharashtra government headed by Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena and Fadnavis led by the powerful BJP. That such a ‘coup’ did not rattle the Marathwada’s political heavyweight and also known as the much claimed modern ‘Chanakya” in Indian politics, Sharad Pawar, explains what is in store in the coming days. Sharad Pawar, on whom the Congress and dynasts rely, appears to have been caught off-guard. Reason; Sharad Pawar on behalf of the Congress was to convene the second 16 to18 party, meet at Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh, where the age-old party returned to power. Putting up a brave face, Sharad Pawar, makes light of the ‘sudden political developments’ (in people’s perception) stating that he has no plans to stop none from leaving the party. Few leftover leaders, who wish not to switch their loyalties, however, say that they are unaware of how many of their colleagues indeed left them.

Even though Ajit Pawar and Praful Patel (MP), at a joint press conference, soon after the formal swearing-in ceremony as state’s second deputy chief minister, alongside BJP’s Fadnavis, almost all the 53 NCP members are with them. However, the real picture is yet to emerge, as only Jr Pawar (if one may permit to say) and nine others were sworn in as ministers, in the hurriedly convened ceremony at Raj Bhavan. One thing is clear that the trouble within NCP began the day when Sharad Pawar, tried to spring a surprise of ‘stepping down’ drama, not so long ago. Added to Sr Pawar’s woes, was the most explosive interview that the present deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis indeed dropped enough hints of possible ‘surprise’ political developments that to follow.

In that ‘freewheeling’ interview, a seasoned politician like Fadnavis seems to have gotten trapped, when he admitted that soon after the polls, he chose to form the government with NCP support after none other than their traditional pre-poll ally Shiv Sena led by Udhav Thackeray’s decision to part ways. Fadnavis did claim that his party reached a clear understanding with the NCP and got the nod of even Sharad Pawar. When Arnab insisted, Fadnavis even dared senior Pawar to dare deny it, and with his blessings, he and Ajit Pawar decided to be sworn in as CM and deputy CM. This challenge has put senior Pawar on the back foot as he conceded he did agree to such a post-poll alliance, but tried to defend that he later after knowing the mood of his party men withdrew just 2-3 days before the swearing-in ceremony. This appears to have proved BJP’s Fadnavis hammering the last nail in NCP’s coffin. It is never been a secret that ambitious or ‘power hungry’ Ajit Pawar, had been desperate to join the BJP-led government, but failed to muster the requisite number, which forced him to retract in the past. However, after two earlier attempts, he seems to have succeeded, thanks to the uncanny politician and party’s Rajya Sabha member Praful Patel. That the present ‘break away’ act has the blessings of none other than Sharad Pawar is loud and clear. Patel, a Gujarati, is known as confidante of Sharad Pawar, and also co-accused in many money laundering cases, including his alleged links with underground lords like Dawood Ibrahim and Chota Shakil (of course the latter was in custody after getting

deported successfully from the Saudi, where he was hiding) now got a shelter in the neighboring rogue Pakistan. As a result, though a weakened Opposition enjoys the right to revive their ‘washing machine’ accusation against the so-called ‘party with difference’ fame BJP. Well, the questions were asked by media persons who are alienable to the Congress and Left-liberals, but the BJP had the cheek to defend that none of those who joined in the past or present from the Opposition ranks, were bound to face the legal process and none can escape from that. Whatever it may mean, the BJP’s overall credibility gets further dented, that too when not so long ago, while blowing the bugle in the poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, claiming none of those who are facing ‘graft charges’ will be spared.

Yet, the Opposition enjoys the right to ask why the Central agencies are going slow on their West Bengal party chief, who deserted from the TMC and indulged in several graft cases, or now the NCP leader and former Union Minister Praful Patel, who is facing more serious charges of links with the underworld Don. Yet, the BJP seems to have succeeded in weakening, if not wiping their principal opponents like the NCP and Shiv Sena, leaving the Congress as usual high and dry, to make the roadblocks cleared ahead. Maharashtra is not going to be first and last, as the Prime Minister, had also warned other parties and even dared to name, which include DMK’s MK Stalin, National Conference’s Abdullah, TMC’s Didi Mamata in West Bengal, and Kalvakuntlas of BRS in the state of Telangana, where elections are due in November/December. And, of all, it appears Nitish Kumar of JDU, visibly appears to be rattled as come September, the Modi-led NDA government set to crack the whip against even once jailed Laloo Prasad Yadav’s family in Bihar. That may prove the collapse of the RJD-JDU government, for sure, in yet another biggest Hindi state, before the 2024 battle.