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'Ajit Pawar can't escape from BJP's cage'

July 07, 2023 09:05 IST
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'If they don't make Ajit Pawar chief minister, what can he do?'

IMAGE: Newly sworn-in Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Ajit Pawar with Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis at Raj Bhavan, Mumbai, July 2, 2023. Photograph: Sahil Salvi

"Will the BJP let Ajit Pawar become so big?", Vijay Chormare, political commentator and long-time Pawar family watcher, tells Syed Firdaus Ashraf/ in the concluding segment of a two-part interview.


Narendra Modi recently called the NCP as Natural Corrupt Party, a fact highlighted by Supriya Sule in her speech. So how will the BJP benefit from bringing NCP politicians into the Maharashtra government?

The BJP had no reason to get the NCP in the cabinet or to weaken the NCP as a party.

Eknath Shinde's government was formed in June 2022 and three months later there was a voter survey in which it was stated that out of 48 seats in Maharashtra, the BJP-Sena will get only 18 seats in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections while the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi will get 30 seats.

This was a poll by C-Voter, which is very reliable.

The BJP realised that they are not going to benefit an iota by taking Shinde on their side in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. They want to win a minimum 40 seats from Maharashtra in 2024 and with Uddhav Thackeray closing the doors on them permanently they decided to go after NCP leaders.

The BJP's sole aim is to increase their Lok Sabha seats from Maharashtra in 2024 and the NCP leaders who joined them have a sole reason, to escape the wrath of central agencies.

Will the BJP's core voter not turn against them?

Yes, this political development matters to the BJP's core voter.

The Congress-NCP core voter will never vote for the BJP.

They feel with Shinde if the BJP-Sena are going to get only 18 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, then by taking Ajit Pawar they will get 15 to 20 more seats. This is their assumption.

Is that the reason Ajit Pawar defended and praised Modi in his speech?

He has been defending Modi for very long.

He defended Modi over his college degree issue.

He also defended the Modi government on the electronic voting machine issue.

In the last six months, he has not spoken a word against Modi.

Did Chief Minister Eknath Shinde's advertisement that he is more popular in Maharashtra than Devendra Fadnavis lead to getting the NCP on their side, to cut him to size?

This political development has nothing to do with Shinde or Devendra Fadnavis. This entire operation has been done by Amit Shah.

Is the BJP not confident of winning Maharashtra in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

After Shinde-Fadnavis formed the government in June 2022 there is too much of negativity going on in people's minds against them.

They are getting this input from their internal surveys and therefore they wanted some plus points to counter this negative sentiment, so they got NCP leaders into the cabinet.

They are still not confident, though, of the people's sentiments turning in their favour.

In the 2019 elections the BJP won 23 Lok Sabha seats and Shiv Sena won 18 seats. One more they got as an Independent MP in Navneet Rana who ironically won with the NCP's support.

So out of 48, the BJP had 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 from Maharashtra. Now if the Shinde group manages to win only four Lok Sabha seats then it is a drop of 14 seats, which is a big number.

Is it true that after August 11 Shinde will be disqualified as Speaker Rahul Narwekar will not give a favourable ruling on him and the other rebel Sena MLAs?

This discussion is going on in the inner circles for sure, as many feel that Ajit Pawar has joined the government to become chief minister. This is the agreement and therefore he has joined them.

The Supreme Court has given guidelines to the speaker of Maharashtra on what he has to follow and he will have to do so accordingly, therefore I feel there are chances that Shinde will have to quit his post.

But then it is too early to say because will the BJP let Ajit Pawar become so big? You never know what they are thinking as they are the BJP.

Now, Ajit Pawar has come into the BJP's cage and there is no way he can escape from it.

Even if they do not make him chief minister, what can he do? There is no other road for him.

Sharad Pawar was looking very sad, isn't it?

He is sad for sure because so many of his protégés and close men have left him at this juncture.

Dilip Walse Patil's father was his close friend and he took his son to Pawar and told him to give guidance in his life.

Pawar made Dilip Walse Patil his personal secretary and then an MLA, home minister too in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government. He got much more than what he deserved according to his capabilities.

Pawar is hurt for sure as even Chhagan Bhujbal, who was his ideological political protégé, has left him. He had quit the Shiv Sena in 1991 to join hands with Pawar and was always with him.

Does it mean ideology is dead in Maharashtra politics?

Sharad Pawar and his daughter Supriya Sule have the ideology line of politics.

Ajit Pawar though spoke that he is with his ideology in simplified terms, but that is not the right path.

He told his party workers that when the NCP shook hands with Shiv Sena our secular ideology did not break, so what is wrong if we go with the BJP? He was trying to simplify things, but it is not that simple when it comes to political ideology.

Ajit Pawar also stated that minorities in Maharashtra need not fear because now he is in the government.

I personally feel that Ajit Pawar can apply the brakes on the communal politics of Fadnavis and Shinde. He will never do communal politics.

This will be good for Maharashtra as Ajit Pawar will never allow the communal harmony of the state to be disturbed.

Sharad Pawar too in his political life never shook hands with the BJP to form a government because of their ideology.

However, Ajit Pawar said in his speech that Sharad Pawar formed the government with the Jan Sangh in 1978 (when they were part of the Janata Party) and in 2014 Sharad Pawar decided to support the BJP from outside when the Shiv Sena was delaying support to the Fadnavis government. But he never worked with the BJP directly in power.

Ajit Pawar also said that in 2017 Sharad Pawar had almost decided to be a part of BJP-Sena government.

He didn't do so eventually. He must be trying to trap the BJP in some game. It is possible that he wanted to keep the BJP in the dark by not letting them know his motives.

In 2019, he did that by trapping the BJP to form the government with Ajit Pawar and later dumping them to join hands with the Shiv Sena and Congress to form the government.

It looks like Ajit Pawar was hurt as he was used as a political pawn and got all the flak for joining hands with BJP and turning his back on them in 2019.
It was all Sharad Pawar's game plan and he just obeyed his leader quietly, and suffering the humiliation.

This is not true. Fadnavis said one week ago that in 2019, when the swearing-in ceremony took place, Sharad Pawar went back on his word of three days before.

Sharad Pawar had backtracked on supporting Fadnavis as CM in 2019 and still Ajit Pawar on his own went and took oath as deputy chief minister.

Sharad Pawar has never compromised on secularism in whichever party he has been.

Even now many MLAs went to meet Sharad Pawar and told him that they want to go with the BJP and also told him that 50 out of 53 MLAs of the NCP will shake hands with the BJP.

Sharad Pawar told them that whoever wants to go can go, but he will not go to share power with the BJP.

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