'For a meaningful alliance, every party has to do some sacrifice.'
'That sacrifice will come only when you persuade people.'
'And that task can be done by only a leader like Sharad Pawar.'
Sharad Pawar resigned as the Nationalist Congress Party president on May 2, 2023. Three days later, on May 5, 2023, he withdrew his resignation.
What made Pawar change his mind?
It is said P C Chacko, the NCP's Kerala state president, played a major role behind the scenes.
Chacko was a prominent Congress MP till he resigned from the party just before the 2021 Kerala assembly election citing groupism in the Congress's Kerala unit.
Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier asked Chacko how he made Sharad Pawar change his mind.
The concluding segment of a two-part Must Read Interview:
- Part 1 of the Interview: He Made Pawar Withdraw Resignation!
So, the 2024 election did the trick?
Pawar is not eyeing any post. He is not interested in becoming prime minister. He is not interested becoming the convenor of the united opposition.
But he can play a role as Sharad Pawar. He can even persuade the reluctant leaders to join hands. All this he can do as the president of the NCP.
He understood when we argued that after being the president for 25 years, waiting for one more year would be worthwhile.
Do you think the Congress under Rahul Gandhi is still incapable of uniting the Opposition?
Knowing Rahul very well, I would say he is like a loose cannon. He says things that are not expected from a national leader.
Secondly, for a meaningful alliance, every party has to do some sacrifice.
That sacrifice will come only when you persuade people. And that task can be done by only a leader like Sharad Pawar who has ample experience. So, his presence is very much needed.
Had Sonia Gandhi been at the helm of affairs as the Congress leader, do you think things would have been different for a united Opposition?
I don't think so. She was only a figure head, and nothing more than that. All the operations were done by Ahmed Patel, and he is no more.
Sonia Gandhi herself comes out only once in a while at public meetings and read her speech.
She may invite Nitish Kumar to her house for breakfast or invite Stalin when he comes to Delhi.
Everybody will accept her invitation. But beyond that, she was not doing any negotiations or diplomatic operations.
For that, you need seasoned politicians with experience?
Which at present, you think only Sharad Pawar has?
At the moment, yes.
Do you think if you had not persuaded Sharad Pawar to withdraw his resignation, Ajit Pawar would have made the NCP join hands with the BJP?
I do not know whether he had such a plan. This is all hearsay from Mumbai.
More than that, at this moment, I should not doubt his intention. He joined with us to persuade Sharad Pawar to continue.
At least for practical reasons, I do not want to say there were people who were interested in going to the BJP.
Do you think it is time you groom second rung leaders in the NCP as today the party is synonymous with one person?
It is a very good idea, and it will happen.
We will call a working committee after the 2024 election and then a new leadership will come.
It is not a good strategy to change the horse while crossing the stream. This is election time and not the time to think about new leadership.
Do you feel every party should keep a group of second rung leaders ready?
Every party should be like that. Otherwise, they will suffer very badly.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com