Just what is playing on Sharad Pawar's [ Images ] mind and what is it that he wants out of the government? That the Congress and NCP share an uneasy relationship, is well known, but what could be his next step?
Dilliwalla, who has his ear to the ground in matters political, was in conversation with rediff.com's Abhishek Mande. Here are extracts from the conversation on Rediff ZaraBol
What do you make of this morning's Pawar saga? Are you surprised to see Pawar reacting the way he did?
Only yesterday, we heard from Rahul Gandhi [ Images ] that he's ready for the party or the government. It was first time he used government. I am not surprised but think that Pawar chose his correct timing!
The buzz was Rahul Gandhi could be even deputy Prime Minister. Then Pawar struck! So long as talk was about Rahul getting a bigger role in Congress, everything was fine. But once he said 'also government', hell broke
My sources say Pawar's man Praful Patel [ Images ] and Sonia Gandhi's [ Images ] man Ahmed Patel are doing the tough negotiations. Talk of some committees for better coordination at UPA level is for public consumption, say NCP sources.
The real issue is portfolios. Pawar wants to be in the key Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). Only if he is defence minister, he is in it Pawar is immensely angry with Maharashtra [ Images ] chief minister Prithviraj Chavan [ Images ] who is telling Rahul Gandhi not to trust NCP.
The midnight confabulations between the two Patels paved the way for Pawar's breakfast with Sonia Gandhi today
Pawar has assured Sonia that he won't leave UPA but his party's 'honour' must be upheld. What is the best way for that? When Congress' core group meets this evening, Pawar's demands will be discussed threadbare
Pawar knows Sonia has little room for ignoring his party's plea. Pawar may have only 9 MPs in Lok Sabha but his clout extends wider
Pawar has some demands in respect of Maharashtra too. One does not what it is now.
Today's is the first of Pawar's salvos. Praful Patel told some of his political friends that more will be fired if Congress doesn't 'behave'.
Much is being made out of the 'No 2 spot'. Who is No 2 right now?
Pawar is angry because he sees Rahul is getting ready for a role in government too. The talk of Rahul as deputy PM started after Janardhan Dwivedi said he could be in party or government -- for the first time
Pawar won't be under Rahul, of course! So he is angry with two things -- functioning of governments at the centre and Maharashtra!
When the Cabinet met after Pranab Mukherjee's [ Images ] exit, Pawar sat next to Prime Minister. Then, in a second meeting, Antony sat next to PM
So Pawar wants to know why Congress is shifting pecking order in Cabinet. His real bargain is for a plum portfolio.
Pawar wants defence portfolio and also something more 'lucrative' for his Man Friday, Praful Patel who is upset since he lost civil aviation
He finds his current portfolio of agriculture, hurting his image. And with another bad monsoon, he wants to escape farmers' wrath.
How much of what Pawar is doing do you think is an empty threat? Evidently, NCP and Congress cannot do without each other, especially in Maharashtra...
Pawar knows that too. However with Pranab Mukherjee gone, there is no mature political mind to tackle recalcitrant allies. Hence, he chose to strike now.
Maharashtra is also a big issue. Pawar may seek a change of CM. He has told Sonia Gandhi that Prithviraj Chavan is a failure and the Thackerays are coming together and therefore Congress must act now, NCP sources say.
Sonia's problem is she has to little to choose when it comes to finding a replacement for Chavan
Congress is likely to buy peace with Pawar, by offering a key portfolio
He knows that Chidambaram has an eye on defence portfolio if he does not get finance from Prime Minister who wants to keep that ministry
Chidambaran confided to someone recently that he will get finance only when PM choses to give it up.
So Pawar will keep up the pressure on Congress till his demands are met
As his style, Pawar won't publicly put his demand for new portfolio but privately his men will do the talking, Congress sources said
Pawar thinks that Rahul Gandhi's entry into government will mean that clamour will grow that he becomes PM. So, he has to get the best deal
Cabinet's reshuffle may be held between August 2 and 6. That's buzz in Delhi [ Images ] for now
Is this the same Sharad Pawar who said he won't contest the next elections? Why so much fuss then?
Pawar knows he's running out time. Not being in the pink of his health, Pawar's plans to groom his daughter, Supriya, are stuck too
The 2G spectrum scam enveloped Surpriya and Ajit Pawar is not making things easy for father-daughter duo. Hence, Pawar looks to Congress
Pawar is concerned is about Sushil Kumar [ Images ] Shinde being made a Leader of Lok Sabha
If his seniority is not restored now, Pawar feels he cannot recover
You can bet Pawar will settle for a place in CCS and a key portfolio
Pawar's advantage is that he knows the Congress' inside out and its pressure points for result
Congress is in no mood to use CAG reports against Pawar or Praful Patel
CAG reports on Air India [ Images ] were not complimentary to Praful Patel at all when he was civil aviation minister
What do you foresee happening now? A well-rehearsed plot where the Congress tries to pacify Pawar or something more interesting?
Congress will pipe down and see how Pawar can be assuaged both in Delhi and in Mumbai [ Images ].
Neither Sonia Gandhi nor Prime Minister in any mood to let the quarrel go unchecked, Pawar knows that too. Hence, he drove to her house today
In any case, Sonia will try to settle it with Pawar but her big question will remain what role Rahul should play
Do you foresee Pawar returning to Maharashtra politics the way Anand Sharma harbours dreams of becoming CM of Himachal Pradesh [ Images ]
I doubt Pawar nurtures a dream to return to Maharashtra. He may want Supriya to do that. His own ambition is becoming PM someday!
Whatever Pawar does today, he sees it as a step toward that goal.