Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Monday said he had wanted former chief minister and Congress leader Sushilkumar Shinde to fight polls from a seat in Maharashtra's Solapur district in 1972 but the latter's candidature was rejected by party stalwart Babu Jagjivan Ram.
Sharing an anecdote during an event where Shinde was felicitated, Pawar said the former left his job in his insistence to enter politics.
"I was insisting that he leave his job and come to politics and public life. However, due to family obligations, he was a little apprehensive. I told him his forte was to work for marginalised classes and safeguard their rights. Ultimately, he decided to resign from his government job," Pawar said.
"Assembly polls were round the corner and I convinced the state leadership, including Vasantdada (Patil), to give Shinde a ticket from Karmala constituency, which was a reserved one," he added.
Shinde's name was unanimously agreed upon at the state level and his name was sent to the central committee of the Congress, the NCP supremo narrated.
"Vasantdada and I went to Delhi to attend the meeting to finalise the candidates for the assembly election. When it was the turn of Karmala, I put forth the name of Shinde. (Yashwantrao) Chavan and other senior leaders nodded positively but senior Congress leader Babu Jagjivan Ram objected and said nahi chalega. He proposed the name of Tayappa Sonavane as he was his colleague," Pawar recalled.
Pawar said though he was not "worthy" of talking in front of all these stalwarts, he batted for Shinde, but Jagjivan Ram got furious and Vasantdada signalled him to stop.
"Shinde, who had already left his job on my insistence, did not get the ticket," he said.
Pawar said he had tears in his eyes when he met Shinde but the latter consoled him.
Sonavane died two years later, which necessitated a bypoll in 1974 that Shinde won, Pawar said.