Former Union Minister and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar is not new to flip-flops in his long political career and has once again lived up to his reputation by offering to support the Bharatiya Janata Party soon after the Maharashtra assembly polls results on Sunday.
Pawar showed what he was capable of when he exited the Vasantdada Patil government to form his own in 1978. This he did after Patil asked him in the lobby of the Vidhan Bhavan if he was still in his government. Pawar sought support from the Left leaning parties and became the youngest Chief Minister in Maharashtra.
Later, he rejoined Congress, only to quit again, claiming he was being sidelined in the party. Inexplicably, Pawar came back to the Congress fold accepting Rajiv Gandhi’s leadership in 1987. Pawar stayed put in the Congress till 1999 after which he suddenly raised Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origins. Pawar was expelled from Congress for the crime, and he founded the NCP, contesting both the Lok Sabha and assembly elections against Congress in 1999. But when it became clear that the Congress and NCP could form the government if they joined hands, Pawar didn’t have any qualms in doing that.
Similarly, Pawar also meekly joined the UPA cabinet in 2004 and 2009 – his sole consolation was that Sonia Gandhi, whom he had objected to, was not the Prime Minister.
But after spending 10 years in the UPA government, Pawar promptly decided to break the alliance with Congress, soon after the Sena -BJP break up. There were rumours of a secret deal between the NCP and BJP to tie up post elections, but this was rejected by BJP leaders. However, on Sunday, the NCP offered to extend support to the BJP which has emerged as the single largest party in a hung assembly, even after Narendra Modi took a tough stand against Sharad Pawar, urging people to end dynastic rule.
Interestingly, Pawar had launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the country’s leadership does not think protecting lives of people is important. For them, electing a legislator is more important when jawans are being killed on the border, he had said.
Sharad Pawar’s flip-flops over various issues are not new, rather he is famous (or infamous) for them. After the 12th Lok Sabha was dissolved and elections to the 13th Lok Sabha was due, Sharad Pawar along with a few other leaders raised the issue of the foreign origin of Sonia Gandhi. But for the love of power, and overturning his criticism over Sonia Gandhi’s Italian origin, Pawar soon aligned with the Congress party to form a coalition government in Maharashtra, as neither party could win an absolute majority in the state.
More so, during the recent Lok Sabha elections , Sharad Pawar shared the dais with Congress president Sonia Gandhi to campaign for UPA candidates for the first time, 15 years after breaking away from Congress.
After the 2002 Godhra riots, Pawar had severely criticised Narendra Modi. But during the Lok Sabha elections, indirectly endorsing Modi’s candidature as India’s Prime Minister, he said people should stop blaming Narendra Modi for the communal violence as he has been exonerated by a court. Pawar reiterated that people should accept the court’s decision.
During the Lok Sabha elections, Pawar had also advocated bogus voting, but later made a U-turn saying his statement was portrayed wrongly. Addressing Mathadi workers in Navi Mumbai, Pawar had reportedly asked them to return to their native places on the polling day to vote twice in the Lok Sabha election.
Not shying away from opportunistic power plays, may well have helped Pawar stay relevant through the years, but it remains to be seen if his last-ditch effort to stay in power by offering outside support to the BJP will pay off this time.
First published on: dnaindia.com