Rama Krishna Sangem
Maratha stalwart and Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar appears to be keeping all political options open for him after May 2024 Lok Sabha elections. He has surprised all, both his party leaders, his own MVA (Maha Vikas Agadhi) allies – Uddhav Thackeray and Congress as well as others outside by attending a function to present Lokmanya Tilak award to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Pune on August 1, Tuesday.
Ever since the MVA allies knew of Senior Pawar sharing dais with PM Modi, they made efforts to persuade him not to go there. Uddhav Thackeray himself tried on phone to talk to Pawar to drop the plans. A delegation of MVA leaders tried hard to meet him in Pune from July 30 on. But, Pawar remained stubborn and refused to meet them or speak to them even.
Some of MVA leaders felt that Pawar would in his speech deliver a class to PM Modi on values of democracy and morals in politics – apparently referring to BJP splitting his NCP through Ajit Pawar recently. However, no such thing happened . Moreover, Modi in his Pune meetings attacked Congress for offering freebies to electorates in Karnataka and Rajasthan. “But, Maharashtra is not like them, this government takes care of development,” said Modi.
Pawar, pragmatic leader
This, according to political analysts is part of Sharad Pawar’s strategy to stay relevant in the national politics even after 2024 LS polls. He will remain with INDIA, of which, MVA too is a part, and continue to be available to the opposition camp. But at the same time, he would not be averse to meet or shake hands with PM Modi, who is almost untouchable to Congress and some others in INDIA.
This is because of an assessment that no combine – NDA or INDIA would get full majority in 2024 polls – means, they won’t cross the magic figure of 272, half way mark of LS. In such case, Pawar wants to be the combine whichever can form a government by cobbling together numbers. It all depends, whoever comes close to the halfway mark or emerge as the single largest bloc.
Then, he can to play a bigger role – either holding a heavy weight ministry like home, defence or external affairs or occupying a Constitutional post like President or Vice-President.
Sharad Pawar has no political pretensions or compulsions to keep BJP away from power at any cost. That maybe the goal of Congress or the Left parties, but not of his. He will be ready to go with either INDIA or NDA – whoever can get enough MPs to form a government. For him, his NCP being in power in Maharashtra is secondary. That’s why, Sharad Pawar has met his nephew and Dy CM Ajit Pawar two times in the last fortnight.