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'Pawar can never be dismissed as a has-been'

May 04, 2023 11:06 IST
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'Many resignation dramas are played out to make others realise one's importance, but Sharad Pawar would not play such petty games.'

IMAGE: Nationalist Congress Party leader Chhagan Bhujbal, left, speaks as Sharad Pawar, his wife Pratibha Pawar, nephew Ajit Pawar and other NCP leaders listen after Sharad Pawar announced his decision to step down as NCP president at the Y B Chavan auditorium in Mumbai, May 2, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

Sharad Pawar dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, when he announced that he was stepping down as president of the Nationalist Congress Party, a party he founded almost 24 years ago.

The party, which is in alliance with the Shiv Sena (UBT) and Congress in Maharashtra, at once went into convulsions, with party workers pleading with the NCP patriarch to review his decision.

Will he? Or will he insist on stepping down, making way for Gen Next? Or will it be over for his party?

Olga Tellis, the legendary journalist who has known Pawar well for decades, deciphers his latest move to A Ganesh Nadar/

We started our careers together. We are the same age. He was a Y B Chavan protégé. Even at that time he showed signs of leadership. Chavan groomed him. There is no better person to be prime minister, but he fell between two stools.

It is the end of an era. He is a towering figure. He had the ability to take everyone with him. I don't know how the NCP will function without him.

Where administrative capability is concerned there is no one to touch him. His successor has very big shoes to fill.

I guess he resigned because of health issues. He is a vibrant person. One does not know his mind.

Many resignation dramas are played out to make others realise one's importance, but Sharad Pawar would not play such petty games.

The Congress thinks they cannot function without the Gandhi family, the NCP is not such a party. It is sad that he chose to call it a day. He is a rallying point for all people. A true patriarch.

I don't think that has anything to do with his nephew Ajit Pawar talking to the Bharatiya Janata Party. I cannot imagine Ajit joining the BJP or planning an alliance with them with the help of a few MLAs. He doesn't have enough MLAs.

The committee that has been formed will find someone to lead the party. I don't think they will ask Sharad Pawar to lead again. It will be sad if they make it a family affair.

What makes Sharad Pawar special is his administrative ability. His ability to bring warring factions together. His ability to settle disputes. After the 1993 bomb blasts in Mumbai he got everything to work the next day. That was not an easy task but he did it.

Though he deserved it he never became the prime minister because people don't trust him. His legacy was that he betrayed Vasantdada Patil and brought down the government in 1978.

Unlike him Narendra Modi had the support of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and his party. It was also the happenings at that time that helped him. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could not control his ministers who were involved in innumerable scams. There was uncertainty in the government.

Narendra Modi came as a messiah at that time promising two crore jobs and a corruption-free government and it worked. The foot soldiers of the RSS assured his victory. People trusted Modi, they don't trust Sharad Pawar though he is known across the country.

In life people don't like opportunists, but it is accepted in politics. Sharad Pawar always seized the opportunity. It is allowed in politics.

He was a man in a hurry. This haste was one of the reasons he never became prime minister.

His allying with the Congress after leaving it to form the NCP is an example of the saying that there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics.

I think the NCP will survive without Sharad Pawar as it not a family-run party. The NCP will not split.

Ajit Pawar is an important leader in the NCP. If he leaves the party, he will be on his own. No one will go with him. I don't think he will do that even though he is ambitious.

I don't think that this is Pawar's end game. As I said before, no one knows his mind. A lot depends on his health.

He is still a patriarch. People from his party and others will always go to him for advice, in that he remains important.

I don't think Sharad Pawar is trying to achieve anything by stepping down. He is probably tired of everything. I don't think he has anyone in mind to lead the party. He will keep out of the selection process.

His meeting with (Gautam) Adani particularly when that man was receiving so much bad publicity shows that Sharad Pawar is his own man. They must be friends and he just dropped in to let him know we are still friends even when you are down. There was no message in that meeting.

Pawar can never be dismissed as a has-been. He is a towering figure and will always be.

The BJP will be happy if he is out. The Maha Vikas Aghadi will survive as an alliance because they know that they cannot take on the BJP alone. They can only face the BJP together.

Maharashtra politics will survive without Pawar. It will be about the Congress and the Shiv Sena and how they can keep the BJP at bay.

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