Sharad Pawar Quits NCP, Then Comes Back

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Sharad Pawar Quits NCP, Then Comes Back

Tuesday afternoon, Pawar in an unexpected move, stepped down as the president of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), turning Maharashtra politics in turmoil. Speaking at a book launch of his autobiography in Mumbai, Pawar said that 'after a long period, it is necessary to take a step back’, adding that he will not be retiring from active politics.

After the NCP committee  Friday  rejected the resignation passing a proposal requesting him to lead the party, Pawar withdrew his resignation under pressure from party leaders and workers but declared that organisational changes would be made as part of the gradual succession plan. Pawar’s decision came after a panel formed to select the new party president unanimously rejected his resignation and asked him to continue.


Speculation over the resignation:  more than meets the eye

Speculation on his resignation however, continues. By resigning, Girish Kuber (Editor, Loksatta) writes Pawar “raised his stature over his wobbly outfit besieged by a number of exits and constant poaching by the BJP. His resignation also creates an invisible wall around him that the opposition will find it difficult to penetrate. Difficult, because he can’t be held responsible for NCP’s misdeeds, if any, anymore.

“…..Here onwards his position will be like that of ‘chairman emeritus’.” That “will give him the freedom he wanted to project himself as a ‘statesman’ who can give up the leadership of a party he founded.”

And significantly “with this elevated stature, Pawar will get more elbow room and authority in his efforts to bring non-BJP parties together. With the state Assembly polls and general elections just round the corner, free and ‘apolitical’ Pawar will be more potent for the Opposition than being a mere one party chief……

“For those uninitiated, Pawar’s move may look shocking. But for the man who has scripted many such shocks in his over six decades of eventful political career, the decision to quit the party chief’s post was anything but shocking.”


Resigned to avoid speculation of a possible split in NCP

According to The Indian Express, Sharad Pawar resigned “to divert attention — and perhaps, partially scotch — speculation his party, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), was headed for a split. There is buzz that Pawar’s nephew and former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, like in 2019, was set to cross over with his supporters to the BJP’s side………

“However, the resignation drama may have only postponed the crisis within the NCP, which is more than a mere question of leadership or the ambitions of a set of leaders. The NCP, born out of the Congress in 1999, has built itself around the persona of Sharad Pawar. His charisma and grass-roots connect influenced many middle-level, influential Congress leaders to join the NCP…….The party has also expanded and seems to carry the Congress legacy. The contradiction, visible in many other regional outfits, is that as the party expanded, leadership began to be identified more and more with the Pawar family. Besides Ajit Pawar and Supriya Sule, Sharad Pawar’s daughter and the NCP’s face in Parliament, the third generation has entered electoral politics…….”


Impact on ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ (MVA)

Now that the resignation has been withdrawn, “it remains to be seen to what extent the ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ (MVA), the opposition alliance (a joint political alliance of Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena-UBT) that Sharad Pawar had forged, will be immune to the churn within the NCP. The MVA in Maharashtra is centered on opposition to the BJP…...Pawar Senior’s skills in coalition management have helped the MVA weather the many ambitions and contradictions among its constituents. His challenge now will be to convince his followers to stay the course.”

‘Chanakya’ (Machiavelli)  triumphs again: But, writes Jyoti Punwani (senior journalist) “Pawar is not known as ‘Chanakya’ for nothing. One doesn’t know whether he has himself scripted the crises that have recently overwhelmed his party, first in 2019 when Ajit Pawar  was sworn in as deputy CM of Maharashtra with the BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis as CM, and now with the former announcing his desire to be CM right away, despite being in the Opposition. At the heart of both crises lies a lurking BJP…….” that has so far failed to cut to size the Maratha strongman, Pawar. 

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